Following joint replacement surgery, your surgeon will likely want to place you on “thromboprophylaxis,” or anti-coagulation therapy. This will depend on your personal medical history, including any heart conditions and risks for developing blood clots. If prescribed, the use of anti-coagulants, or blood thinners, will need to be monitored closely and you may be given a restricted diet menu to follow as well.
Here is some helpful information to ensure your recovery is as uncomplicated a process as possible. We feel it’s important that you to have a basic understanding of blood thinners and why closely monitoring your anti-coagulants is important while recovering from joint replacement.
What Are Blood Thinners?
Your physician has most likely provided you with one of two common forms of an anti-coagulant, either heparin or warfarin. Both of these medications are designed to block the clotting process which your body initiates in response to trauma. Clotting is an important function of healing under most circumstances.
Due to the nature of your surgery, or your personal medical history, there are reasons your physician does not want your body to engage in this natural function at its full ability. However, there are risks associated with this therapy.
By slowing your body from creating the clots that normally stop bleeding, you are at a greater risk of excessive bleeding. You may notice that you bruise more easily while you are on this medication; this is a common side effect. For instance, if you were to bump your arm in a way that would normally not produce a bruise, you may notice that you develop dark bruising while on this form of treatment.
While you are on blood thinners, it is important to be cautious and aware of your injuries. In severe cases, such as a fall or a head injury, individuals who are taking anti-coagulants have unfortunately suffered catastrophic blood loss resulting in death. Likewise, individuals who have not monitored their medication levels and the effects on their blood have also suffered the same outcome?
Importance of Monitoring
As not everyone responds the same to anti-coagulation therapy, it is vital that you follow your physician’s directions in dosage and testing. If your dose is too high it can completely stop your ability to clot; too low a dose does nothing to provide you with the benefits of the medication. The role of anti-coagulants in recovering from joint replacement is to dramatically slow the clotting factor, not completely shut it off.
“PT,” or prothrombin time, is the blood test that is used to test how your body is responding to the blood thinner. These numbers will show if you are receiving the correct dose for your needs or if you need your medications adjusted. It is vital that you follow your testing schedule and the recommendations for dosageOftentimes patients have to visit a facility to have these tests performed. For Residential Home Health patients, a Residential Home Health Care Team member will test and help keep track of these important medications and essential blood monitoring.
If you have any questions or problems during your recovery, never hesitate to talk to your physician or, if enrolled in our care, a Residential Home Health nurse or therapist. We are dedicated to providing you with better care; the care necessary to ensure you have the most rapid recovery possible and return to spending time doing the things you love.
Full of practical information to help ensure your surgery is a complete success, this guide helps you prepare for your surgery, your homecoming and your recovery.