Not long ago, an acquaintance was telling me a story, which led to his sharing with me that he had experienced multiple heart attacks several years prior. In discussing his story, he told me how much better his health had become as he had made some lifestyle changes and that on a daily basis, the only thing he didn’t like was having to take blood thinners. Of course, my eyes flicked down to his wrist. No medical ID. I looked at his neck...no necklace chain.... So I asked, “Did your doctor ever tell you that you need to wear a medical ID for blood thinner use?” And his answer stunned me: No.
Considering how adamant most cardiologists and general practitioners are about ensuring that their patients wear “heart patient” medical ID bracelets or necklaces, and especially that people on blood thinners wear medical ID jewelry, I was really surprised when he followed up with a question of his own: “Why would I need to wear a medical ID if I’m on blood thinners?” I’m not ashamed to admit I got up on my soapbox a little on this one because this is a really big deal. But if no one told this man he needed a medical ID when on blood thinners, odds are there are other people on blood thinners who don’t know why they need one either. So here we go:
Three (or more...) Reasons Why You Need A Blood Thinner Medical Alert
- You are at risk of a dangerous bleeding event. When on blood thinners, you are always at an increased risk of bleeding, both externally and internally. While taking blood thinners may not cause a trauma, in the event one occurs, EMTs and other first responders need to know that you are on blood thinners so they know that while you may look alright on an initial examination, you are at serious risk for internal injuries and must be monitored and treated accordingly.
- You likely have a serious medical condition or have undergone a major surgery. People are often prescribed blood thinners because they have had a heart attack, stroke, pulmonary embolism, or other clotting-related medical emergency. They are also prescribed if you’ve had or are at risk for deep vein thrombosis and/or if you have had certain types of major surgery. Having a patient’s medical history is a key element in achieving the fastest and most accurate treatment in an emergency. So, wearing a medical ID that indicates, for example, your history of stroke and subsequent warfarin use can be vitally important in a crisis. Your engraving might look something like this.
HX STROKE, PE
- Not all blood thinners are the same. Ok, this one is a multi-part answer. First, there are simply a lot of different blood thinners on the market, and they work differently. Some are anticoagulants, while others are antiplatelet agents. Coumadin and warfarin, for example, work by thinning the blood through reduced clot formation. Plavix and aspirin, however, work differently; they inhibit the platelets in the blood from sticking together. If you experience a bleeding problem, emergency medical personnel need to know which type of blood thinner you are on.
Lastly, you may be on one blood thinner but might have just switched from another. Sometimes, especially early in treatment, people find that their doctors have them try a few different blood thinners until they find just the right medication for that individual. In these cases, it is sometimes better to engrave, “ON BLOOD THINNERS” on one line and, “SEE WALLET CARD” on the next so that you can regularly update your wallet card with your current medications and dosages as well as any recent change information, until you’re well established with a medication and feel comfortable having that information engraved on your medical ID. Already engraved your medical ID with “ON PRADAXA” but now you need it to say, “ON XARELTO”? No problem. Because most of our medical ID bracelets are interchangeable, you can keep your interchangeable bracelet strand and simply replace the existing tag.
Taking blood thinners can be a life-saving choice. It’s also not without risks. Wearing blood thinner medical ID jewelry daily may help protect you in the event of a trauma or a dangerous bleeding event.
Need to engrave your blood thinner medical ID bracelet or necklace? Here’s some great information on what to engrave on a blood thinner medical ID, and below, we’ve included some common blood thinner medication spellings.