There is no thick blood, and blood thinners do not improve its fluidity. But how do the medicines protect against heart attacks and strokes?
The term blood thinner is strictly speaking not quite right. Because the drugs have neither the task to dilute the blood, nor to improve the flow properties.
What does blood consist of? To understand how the drugs work, you have to take a closer look at the blood. It consists half of the so-called blood plasma, which is composed of water, blood salts and proteins. The other half consists of red and white blood cells as well as the platelets.
How do blood thinners work?
Blood thinners have two modes of action: they inhibit platelets from sticking together, clumping against the arterial wall and, in the worst case, closing the blood vessel. For this, the drugs start with the platelets.
Clotting inhibition is about preventing clots from forming in the blood. The drugs do not dilute the blood but reduce the coagulation ability. The funds use this for the blood plasma and the proteins contained.
Blood thinner in arteriosclerosis
When which medicines are used depends on the clinical picture of the patient. Often, both treatment approaches intermesh. Anti-platelet drugs, including aspirin with the active ingredient acetylsalicylic acid, are mainly prescribed for patients with atherosclerosis – ie calcified blood vessels. They have already formed deposits of fats and lime on the walls of the arteries. Doctors speak of plaques.
The platelet inhibitors prevent the arteries from becoming blocked by adhering platelets. This reduces the risk of heart attack or stroke. In patients who have had a heart attack, aspirin therapy can greatly reduce the risk of relapse.
Blood thinners prevent thrombosis
Anticoagulants are used to reduce the risk of thrombosis. This is important, for example, when the patient has little or no movement after surgery.
In addition, patients with atrial fibrillation are often also prescribed anticoagulants. Otherwise it can happen that a clot forms through the irregular heart rhythm and is flushed into the head. The consequence: the patient suffers a stroke.