Medications only work when they are taken as directed

Publication Date: 
Thu, 11/01/2012
By: Alere Staff

Medications only work when they’re taken properly. The effectiveness and safety of a medicine is directly related to how well a patient sticks to their dosing routine. Warfarin is normally taken once a day in dosages ranging from as little as 1 milligram per day for highly sensitive patients to 25 milligrams or more for younger, larger, or less warfarin-sensitive patients. The “right” dose is specific to you and needs to be determined by a qualified physician.

The INR (International Normalized Ratio) is used to describe the blood test for patients on warfarin. A very high INR number suggests too much warfarin has been taken. A number below 2.0 suggests too little warfarin or the warfarin taken has interacted with another medication. Each patient is given an INR target that meets their own clinical needs; which gives you your own INR target range.

When patients forget to take their medication or take it inconsistently they should expect their INR test result number to go up or down. This increases the risk for dangerous blood clots or heart attack. An overdose by accident or intent may result in a very high INR increasing the risk of bleeding from any tissue or organ.

Pill boxes are excellent tools for warfarin patients. If you are taking warfarin with many other medications including vitamins, it may be difficult to keep all pills, tablets, gel-caps and caplets organized. Keeping all medicines up to date and accessible will lower the risk of taking the wrong medication at the wrong time.

Increasing testing frequency is recommended when making any changes to your diet, medication, etc. Studies have shown that increasing testing frequency with weekly testing of INR improves patient safety and helps keep the drug in its therapeutic effective zone.1,2 Weekly testing was shown to be the most effective testing frequency.1 Medicare and many private/commercial insurance reimburse patients for weekly patient self-testing.3 Go to the Getting Started page or call Alere at 1.800.504.4032 for more information about testing your INR at home.

  1. Am J Manag Care. 2014;20(3):202-209.
  2. Heneghan C., et al. Self-monitoring of oral anticoagulation: a systematic review and meta-analysis. 2006. Lancet, 367, 404-11.
  3. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Decision Memo for Prothrombin Time (INR) Monitor for Home Anticoagulation Management  (CAG-00087R) [Memorandum]. 2008. Baltimore, MD.