Warfarin Now Seems Natural

Publication Date: 
Sat, 03/01/2014
By: Alere Staff

Ticks, venomous snakes, spiders, leeches and mosquitos all have several things in common besides sending chills down your spine; they all have a protein in their saliva that prevents blood from clotting.

Scientists continue to uncover medical breakthroughs from nature. A study published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation found that a protein from the saliva in ticks interferes with normal blood clotting in humans.1 So, why are there such studies being conducted in something so dangerous as blood clotting? The answer lies in studying exactly where nature has chosen to slow the clotting process in the blood. Human blood has many clotting proteins and a complex process of forming clots, so scientific studies have much to research. Also, a better understanding of this clotting process can result in better patient care.

Today’s warfarin is not rat poison but a carefully manufactured and precise medication used to treat a variety of conditions in patients at risk for developing blood clots, medically called thrombosis. Warfarin remains the most relied upon medication to prevent heart attack and stroke. While warfarin has been used for over sixty years, science and technology have only come together over the last several years for clinicians to learn that increasing patients’ testing frequency through weekly home INR testing can improve the drug’s safety profile.2

It is important to remember that all drugs used to prevent blood clots carry risks. New drugs carry a risk because of the need for perfect adherence as their protection quickly fades from one dose to the next, whereas warfarin provides a longer half-life and greater protection between missed doses.3

  1. Schuijt TJ, et al. Factor Xa activation of factor V is of paramount importance in initiating the coagulation system: Lessons from a tick salivary protein. Circulation 2013; DOI 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.113.003191
  2. Ansell, J. March 2012.  Patient Self-Testing: Real-World Experience Within a Comprehensive Support Service Represents a New Standard of Care, Attaining High Quality Anticoagulation Control. Poster presented at: American College of Cardiology.
  3. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. 2009. Medication Guide for Coumadin Tablets and Coumadin for Injection [Package Insert]. Princeton, NJ: Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.