Because Coumadin is a powerful blood anticoagulant, mixing Coumadin and alcohol may produce a serious condition enhancing the availability of Coumadin in the bloodstream. Internal hemorrhaging could occur as a result of drinking and taking Coumadin, bleeding that is prolonged and severe enough to be life-threatening.
Anticoagulants are blood thinners prescribed to people who suffer from arterial or venal blood clots. Individuals prescribed Coumadin have usually experienced heart attacks, strokes or other blood-clotting disorders that facilitates the formation of blood clots.
Also known as Warfarin, Coumadin carries several risks when taken even without the additional detrimental effects of alcohol. Problems potentially exacerbated by individuals taking Coumadin and alcohol include:
Those who suffer from the following issues should not take Coumadin:
For any kind of drug to successfully repair a medical condition, it must infiltrate the bloodstream and find its way to the area needing remedied, whether it is tissues, organs or muscles. As it metabolizes and eventually passes via the liver and kidneys, the drug loses most of its effectiveness, which is why patients need more doses if the condition has not been rectified. Similarly, the ethanol in alcohol behaves much like medication, circulating through the blood, influencing neuronal and neurotransmitter activity before it is ultimately metabolizes and flushes from the body.
However, alcohol negatively disturbs the availability of pharmaceuticals such as Coumadin.
Common drug-alcohol interactions involve the following:
In addition to Coumadin and alcohol incompatibly interacting with each other, Coumadin also conflicts with other medications that alcoholics frequently take for hangovers, heartburn, muscle aches and illnesses resulting from a depressed immune system. These over the counter medications include Motrin, Aleve, Advil, Tylenol, Zantac and Nuprin. Because these drugs contain high amounts of aspirin, another known blood thinner, the anticoagulant effects of Coumadin are intensified, potentially resulting in hemorrhaging from pre-existing conditions such as ulcers or undetected internal bleeding.
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Passing out while bleeding from a cut, even it is a small one, is a feasible possibility as well. Anticoagulants thin the blood by impeding protein production in the liver, which assists in blood clotting. Vitamin K governs the manufacturing of these proteins, or cofactors, which allows blood to freely flow throughout the body without any type of clotting process taking place. This means when a break in the skin occurs, blood will continue to seep from the wound without the interference of clotting substances. It is entirely possible for someone who is mixing Coumadin and alcohol to cut themselves while shaving, then pass out and literally bleed to death if they remain unconscious long enough.
Chronic, heavy drinking results in cognitive and vestibular issues making alcoholics susceptible to accidental self-injury, such as falling, cutting themselves and bumping into things. When mixing Coumadin and alcohol, the risk of profuse and uncontrollable bleeding increases if someone who is drunk cuts themselves shaving or is involved in an automobile accident. This presents another reason why you should never consume alcohol while taking anticoagulants, in addition to the many other warnings given in regards to this dangerous combination of drugs and alcohol.
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Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)
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