Clot Busters and Blood Thinners
Following a heart attack or stroke, clot busters are powerful emergency medications that break up blood clots. Blood thinners prevent the formation of future problematic blood clots.
Emergency! A heart attack or stroke patient carried into a hospital emergency room now has a better chance of survival and recovery thanks to the availability of modern medicines developed through chemistry.
Thrombolytic agents, commonly known as “clot busters,” are one of the most powerful drugs that can be used to treat someone who has a blood clot that has blocked an artery in the brain or in the heart. These medications, administered intravenously, find the clot and dissolve it before it causes too much damage. Clot busters are most effective when given in the first hour after the event, but they still have beneficial effects when used up to six hours after the onset of symptoms and can improve a patient’s recovery time and his quality of life afterwards.
Happily, many patients survive a health crisis as a result of clot-busters, but the heart attack or stroke is an indication that the body has a tendency to form blood clots. To prevent a repeat event, in addition to advising changes in diet and exercise patterns, patients are often treated with anticoagulants, also known as blood thinners. Medications such as Warfarin, which is sold under trade names such as Coumadin and Jantoven, do not actually make the blood runnier. Instead, they target the liver to reduce the production of clotting factors, thus limiting the clotting action of Vitamin K. Anticoagulants do not dissolve blood clots like clot busters; they help prevent new clots from forming. Because Warfarin has negative interactions with other medicines and other conditions and because it specifically acts to prevent blood from clotting, which would be problematic during surgery or upon injury, it should always be taken under a doctor’s supervision.
Thrombolytics and anticoagulants, or clot busters and blood thinners, represent life-saving contributions of chemistry to the treatment and prevention of health conditions. Chemistry contributes to the field of medicine in numerous ways through the invention of new materials, new instruments and new procedures. But the development of new life-saving pharmaceuticals may be one of the most visible ways in which chemists help save lives.
More information about blood thinners may be found at http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/warfarin-other-blood-thinners and more information about clot busters may be found at http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/medicine-clot-busters