Another medication more dangerous than the condition it treats: Blood-thinning drugs increase risk of internal bleeding, death
02/14/2019 // Rita Winters // Views

Using antithrombotic or blood-thinning medications was found to increase the risk of hematuria, or the presence of blood in urine, and other related complications. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that antithrombotic medications such as warfarin and aspirin may cause adverse health events.

The study involved 2,518,064 individuals in Ontario, Canada, ages 66 years and older. Researchers led by Robert K. Nam, M.D. of the University of Toronto Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center, collected patient data including the patient's age, sex, comorbidity (presence of two chronic conditions), and pre-existent urologic disease, and rates of hematuria-related complications among patients taking antithrombotic medications.

Among the total population as mentioned above, 808,897 individuals with an average age of 72 years received at least one prescription for an antithrombotic medication over the span of 12 years (2002 to 2014). Follow-up data collection shows that the rates of hematuria-related complications were 124 events per 1,000 person-years among patients actively exposed to the drugs, versus 80 events among patients who were not exposed at all. These hematuria-related complications were defined as emergency department visits, hospitalizations, or a urologic procedure to investigate or manage gross hematuria. The researchers argue that since the total population consisted mostly of older adults, these findings may not be applicable to younger people.

Antithrombotic medications reduce the formation of blood clots (thrombi). It is generally used for treating or preventing a dangerous blood clot (acute thrombus). There are different types of antithrombotic medication, some of which include anticoagulants, anti-platelet agents, and fibrinolytics. These chemical drugs are known to cause some side effects in humans, including fever, nosebleeds, bleeding gums, coughing up blood, cramps, nausea, vomiting, blood in the urine, diarrhea, blood in the stool, skin rashes, severe bruising and unexpected weight loss. Some drug names that contain antithrombotic agents include Heparins, Xarelto, Plavix, Lovenox, Activase, Aspirin Cardio, Effient, Pletal, Angiomax and Fragmin.

Hematuria is the presence of red blood cells (erythrocytes) in the urine. Gross hematuria is basically a large amount of red blood cells in urine, and is usually seen with the naked eye. Damage to the kidneys and the urinary tract may result in a blood leak into the urine, thus hematuria. Some conditions may cause hematuria, such as the presence of kidney stones, urinary tract infection (UTI), pyelonephritis (infection of the kidneys), polycystic kidney disease, trauma to the urinary system, and vigorous exercise. Kidney or bladder cancer may also cause hematuria, especially in individuals with risk factors such as male sex, age over 35, and history of smoking, chronic bladder inflammation, and occupational exposures to toxic chemicals.

Treatment of hematuria depends largely on its causes. Doctors will prescribe antibiotics to clear a urinary tract infection, in other cases, shock wave therapy to break up bladder or kidney stones may stop hematuria. However, there are natural treatments that can help with hematuria and its complications. Some of these are:

  • Cranberry juice – Cranberries are known to have antibiotic properties and prevents sticking of bacteria to the walls of the bladder.
  • Foods rich in vitamin C – Consume vitamin C-rich foods to boost your immune system, such as kiwi fruit, guavas, bell peppers, strawberries and papaya.
  • Baking soda – This is also very helpful in treating hematuria. Take eight ounce of water and add half a tablespoon of baking soda in it. Mix well and drink this mixture. This home remedy will fight fungal infections and urinary tract infection.

All in all, researchers warn that taking too many antithrombotic medications over long periods of time may cause chronic health conditions, and not just hematuria.

Sources include:

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