Harvard Heart Letter

Blood clots: The good, the bad, and the deadly

Blood clots inside the body can be dangerous, especially if a clot blocks an artery supplying the heart, or forms in one location and then is carried through the bloodstream to a lung or the brain. Researchers are constantly looking for ways to prevent platelets from sticking together and to interrupt the clotting cascade at one or several of its stages. Two classes of drugs that accomplish those objectives — termed antiplatelets and anticoagulants, respectively — are frequently called blood thinners. If you already have cardiovascular disease or compelling risk factors for it, you may already be taking one or more of these anticlotting drugs. If you're not, ask your doctor whether you should be.
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