Staying Healthy

Injuries and blood thinners: How to stop bleeding

Familiarize yourself with the steps to respond quickly.

By , Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

photo of assorted pills arranged on a dictionary page around the word anticoagulant

Blood thinners are medications that make it harder for blood clots to form. Such clots can cause heart attacks, strokes, or leg vein clots that travel to the lung — all dangerous conditions. If you are at extra risk for these conditions, taking a blood thinner can reduce that risk (see "How blood thinners work").

But the anti-clotting action also puts you at risk for uncontrolled bleeding if you get injured. "It takes longer for any bleeding, even a small amount, to stop when you're on these medications," says Dr. Kei Ouchi, an emergency physician at Harvard-­affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital.

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About the Author

photo of Heidi Godman

Heidi Godman, Executive Editor, Harvard Health Letter

Heidi Godman is the executive editor of the Harvard Health Letter. Before coming to the Health Letter, she was an award-winning television news anchor and medical reporter for 25 years. Heidi was named a journalism fellow … See Full Bio
View all posts by Heidi Godman

About the Reviewer

photo of Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Health Letter

Dr. Anthony L. Komaroff is the Steven P. Simcox/Patrick A. Clifford/James H. Higby Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, senior physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and editor in chief of the Harvard … See Full Bio
View all posts by Anthony L. Komaroff, MD

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