Anticoagulants are agents that inhibit blood clotting. Thus, they belong to the group of anticoagulants. In addition to anticoagulants, antiplatelet agents, which prevent platelets from clumping together, also belong to the anticoagulants group.
Anticoagulants for clotting disorders.
Blood has the job of supplying our bodies with nutrients and oxygen. In order for it to reach even the smallest blood vessels, the blood must be fluid and free of clots. Certain disturbances, such as sitting on an airplane for long periods of time, can cause the blood to lose its optimal flow properties, and small blood clots can form. Anticoagulants are used to prevent such clotting disorders.
Effect of anticoagulants
Blood consists of two parts, a solid, cellular part and a liquid part, blood plasma. Among other things, the blood plasma serves as a means of transport for platelets. Clotting of the blood can result from clumping of the platelets as well as clumping of the plasma. The body can control these processes through its own clotting system.
Blood plasma and platelets have different clotting factors. The clotting factors consist of proteins that can be activated as needed and then cause the blood to clot. For example, blood plasma contains fibrin – a protein with glue-like properties. This protein can stick together like a web, causing a blood clot. Anticoagulants inhibit the formation of fibrin, preventing blood clotting from occurring.
Different types of anticoagulants
Anticoagulants can be targeted depending on the indication. The most common agents used for anticoagulant therapy are:
- Heparin is a substance produced naturally in the body that must be injected for clotting disorders.
- Vitamin K antagonists are drugs in tablet form that inhibit the action of vitamin K and therefore blood clotting.
- Fondaparinux is a synthetically produced agent with selective anticoagulation, which must be injected.
- Hirudin is a leech-derived agent that can also be genetically engineered and must also be injected.
- Rivaroxaban is an active ingredient in tablet form that is used to inhibit blood clotting after knee and hip replacement surgery.
- Apixaban is an active ingredient launched in 2011 that is very similar to rivaroxaban in terms of its effect and dosage form.
- Dabigatran etexilate is an active ingredient in capsule form used to inhibit blood clotting after knee and hip replacement surgery.