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Caring for someone who takes anticoagulants

Feel confident helping your loved one test their coagulation levels at home with CoaguChek®.

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How to manage anticoagulation medication

There are four main types of anticoagulation medication:


Vitamin K antagonists,

also known as Coumadin (or warfarin)




Thrombocyte aggregation inhibitors



(also known as thrombin and factor Xa inhibitors)

While each of these medications acts in a different way in the body, their goal is the same: to thin the user’s blood to prevent it from forming blood clots (thrombosis).

For long-term or ongoing anticoagulant therapy, vitamin K antagonists or DOACs can be used. Both are taken as tablets, and your loved one’s doctor or pharmacist will explain how the tablets need to be taken (with or without food, at certain times of day, etc.). It is important to follow these instructions closely to ensure the medication works the way it is intended.

Vitamin K antagonists are the most common anticoagulant, and a major advantage of using them is that your loved one can test their coagulation (INR levels) at home. If you are helping your loved one manage their anticoagulant medication, you may find it especially reassuring to be able to verify that they are in the therapeutic range without needing to visit a clinic or pharmacy for a test.

DOAC: direct oral anticoagulant; NOAC: new oral anticoagulant

How INR testing at home works

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Monitoring anticoagulation levels at home requires taking a small drop of blood from a fingertip. This blood is then placed on a test strip, which is fed into a coagulometer, such as the CoaguChek® XS or CoaguChek® INRange. The coagulometer will display the coagulation as an INR level.

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INR stands for international normalized ratio. It is the most common method of measuring to what extent blood clotting is slowed. For instance, in a patient with an INR of 2.0, it takes twice as long for the blood to clot compared with a person who is not taking an anticoagulant (and has an INR of 1.0).

How to discuss self-testing with your loved one

If your loved one has never considered self-testing before, it may take time for them to feel confident taking on the responsibility. But, for many people taking anticoagulants, the many benefits of self-testing and the ease of using the CoaguChek® system quickly ease any concerns.

Here are some ways to help guide the conversation:


Start by offering your support to ensure they are comfortable with the machine and the process of testing. Help them schedule time to self-test each week so they can see how convenient it will be to self-test their INR levels.


Discuss the impact on their lifestyle of going to the pharmacy or their doctor’s office on a regular basis. This may make it difficult for them to make or keep plans, or they may be concerned about possible exposure to viruses in the clinic. Self-testing allows them to test from the comfort of their home.


Self-testing also allows them to test while on the go. If travel has felt like an impossible dream for your loved one, self-testing may help them get back out there.

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Reassure them that self-testing is reliable and safe. If ever they have questions, their doctor will still be available to answer them.

A seated female patient talking to her doctor

Getting started

Before your loved one starts self-testing, or testing at home with your help, they will need to have a discussion with their doctor.

Learn more

Test at home with confidence


Studies show that people who take Coumadin/warfarin and who self-test tend to be more satisfied with their anticoagulation care and feel more empowered toward their health, which can translate to better adherence to medication regimens. The more frequent INR tests afforded by self-testing also result in increased time in range, which leads to fewer life-threatening events.1–3

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You can feel confident in the INR values obtained using the CoaguChek® XS or CoaguChek® INRange system. CoaguChek® systems are designed to automatically measure the functioning of each test strip after it has been inserted in order to avoid faulty test results. If, for instance, a test strip has been positioned incorrectly, the device will show an error message.

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Additionally, if your loved one goes through a change in diet or exercise regimes, or takes advantage of new travel opportunities, they can always self-test more frequently to better understand how these changes to their routine affect their coagulation levels. This kind of access to their own body can be empowering and help them feel more in control of their health and well-being.