Anticoagulants are agents that inhibit blood clotting. Thus, they belong to the group of anticoagulants. In addition to the anticoagulants, anticoagulants also include the antiplatelet agents, which prevent clumping of the platelets.
Anticoagulants for coagulation disorders
The purpose of the blood is to supply our body with nutrients and oxygen. In order for it to reach even the smallest blood vessels, the blood must be fluid and lump-free. Certain disturbances, such as prolonged sitting in an airplane, can cause the blood to lose its optimal flow characteristics and form small clots. To prevent such coagulation disorders, anticoagulants are used.
Effect of anticoagulants
The blood consists of two parts, a solid, a cellular and a liquid part, the blood plasma. Among other things, the blood plasma also serves as a means of transporting the platelets. The coagulation of the blood can arise both by clumping of the platelets and by clumping of the plasma. These processes can be controlled by the body through its own coagulation system.
Blood plasma and platelets have different coagulation factors. The coagulation factors consist of proteins that can be activated as needed and then cause blood clotting. The blood plasma contains, for example, fibrin - a protein with adhesive-like properties. This protein can assemble like a web, causing a blood clot. Anticoagulants inhibit the formation of fibrin and thus prevent blood clotting.
Different types of anticoagulants
Anticoagulants can be used selectively depending on the indication. The most commonly used drugs for anticoagulant therapy are:
- Heparin is an endogenous substance that has to be injected in case of coagulation disorders.
- Vitamin K antagonists are drugs in tablet form that inhibit the effects of vitamin K and thus blood clotting.
- Fondaparinux is a synthetically manufactured active substance with selective anticoagulant that needs to be injected.
- Hirudin is an active substance obtained from leeches, which can also be produced by genetic engineering and must also be injected.
- Rivaroxaban is a tablet-based active ingredient used for anticoagulation after knee and hip replacement surgery.
- Apixaban is a 2011 marketed active substance, which is very similar in terms of its effect and dosage form rivaroxaban.
- Dabigatrane exilat is a capsule-form active substance used for anticoagulation after knee and hip replacement surgery.