New survey results have found that 55% of Americans aged 18 years and older who are currently taking anticoagulant medications are concerned about a life-threatening bleeding event, nearly three-quarters of whom said this fear has affected their quality of life.

According to a press release from the National Blood Clot Alliance, which produced the survey, more than 8 million people in the United States are taking a blood thinner medication. Although they are essential to treating blood clots, bleeding events can also be a serious adverse effect (AE) as the medications slow clotting.

According to the survey results, not only do a majority of the 500 respondents experience fear of bleeding events, but many of them also avoid or modify activities in order to mitigate their risk. Even routine activities such as cooking could present a risk, with 64% of respondents saying they are especially careful when preparing food with knives or other sharp kitchen tools. Similarly, 62% said they are cautious about shaving, 53% said they are more careful when going barefoot, and 49% are cautious when brushing their teeth or flossing.

Leisure activities can also be affected, with 62% of respondents saying they are particularly careful when gardening, 43% are careful when exercising, 39% when traveling, and 36% when playing with their children or grandchildren.

“The results of our survey demonstrate that people are making lifestyle decisions—possibly avoiding activities and hobbies they love, such as gardening or exercising—because they are afraid of experiencing serious or dangerous bleeding as a side effect of their blood thinning medication,” said Michael Streiff, MD, FACP, in a statement.

In addition to the findings regarding activities, the investigators also found that these patients are discussing their risks with health care providers. A large majority (95%) said they are having or have had at least 1 discussion with their physician about the risks and AEs of their medication, and 41% said they have this discussion during every physician visit.

“I understand the benefit or importance of my blood thinning medication, but also recognize the bleeding risks associated with it,” said Carolina Bernal-Silva, who has been on a blood thinner medication for 11 years, in a statement from the National Blood Clot Alliance. “I discuss my lifestyle, my routines, and all my activities every time I visit my doctor.”

Understanding these concerns and other options is extremely important when helping patients maintain their lifestyle while remaining safe.

“Make no mistake about it: Blood thinners save lives,” Streiff said. “But all medications have risks. What’s important is to understand the risks, and to really understand how, or if, any of the activities you love could increase your risk for serious bleeding.”

REFERENCE
Majority (55 percent) of Americans taking blood thinners indicate they fear suffering from major bleeding; 73 percent more cautious with routine activities to avoid risk [news release]. National Blood Clot Alliance; June 23, 2020. https://www.stoptheclot.org/news/bleeding-risk-survey/. Accessed June 24, 2020.