Think Disasters Only Happen to Other People?

June 1 ushered in the first day of the Atlantic Hurricane season quietly and without notice. The season extends through November 30, placing millions of anticoagulation patients silently at risk for six months of the year. The odds, however, of a hurricane affecting you are relatively small. The outlook of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) for the 2014 hurricane season is below normal with a 50% chance of a below-normal season.1 This doesn’t mean, however, that you are out of harm’s way from something else coming your way that could interrupt your health care.

If you don’t live along the Atlantic or Gulf Coast, of course your risk of being affected by a hurricane is even smaller, but you have other natural disasters that could pose a threat. Earthquakes, fires, tornadoes and even out-of-season blizzards and storms can pose risks from Mother Nature not limited to specific seasons. Power outages resulting from these events close clinics or labs, making managing your warfarin (or brand of warfarin such as Coumadin®) more challenging. While every natural disaster is relatively short lived, having to delay your blood test can threaten the management of your health. And while disasters are rare, a variety of other reasons can delay blood tests ranging from car trouble to difficulty getting to your lab or your doctor’s office.

The number of patients testing their INR at home has greatly increased in the last few years. Studies of patient self-testing show that patients taking warfarin who test weekly are far less at risk for bleeding and bruising or developing a blood clot leading to a stroke or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) than those who test less often or don’t test at frequent, regular intervals.2 The STABLE study, an evaluation of nearly 29,500 self-testers was published in the March issue of  the American Journal of Managed Care and gave physicians new confidence that not only can patients perform their own  blood tests, but can now test weekly to reduce swings in their INR test results.2 Talk to your doctor about your interest in self-testing and take advantage of the opportunity to test at home. 

References:

1. NOAA 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook. May 22, 2014 retrieved from http://www.cpc.noaa.gov/products/outlooks/hurricane.shtml

2. DeSantis, G. Am J Manag Care. 2014;20(3):202-209

 

COUMADIN® is a registered trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharma Company. Alere is not affiliated or associated with Bristol-Myers Squibb Pharma Company or the COUMADIN® trademark.