If you have been diagnosed with a condition that requires you to take blood thinners, then you must be familiar with the term International Normalized Ratio or INR. The INR measures the time it takes for your blood to clot. A high INR means that you are at risk of bleeding while a low INR indicates that your blood is clotting too easily. Maintaining a healthy INR level is essential to your health and wellbeing. In this article, we will discuss some simple tips and tricks to lower your INR level.
What is INR?
The International Normalized Ratio or INR is a laboratory measurement of how long it takes for your blood to clot. It is a standardized way of measuring the effectiveness of blood-thinning medications known as anticoagulants. Anticoagulants help to prevent blood clots from forming and are used to treat conditions such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), pulmonary embolism, and atrial fibrillation. The target INR range and the appropriate treatment vary according to the condition being treated.
Why is it important to maintain a healthy INR level?
Maintaining a healthy INR level is essential to your health and wellbeing. A high INR means that you are at risk of bleeding, while a low INR indicates that your blood is clotting too easily. Both of these conditions can be life-threatening. Therefore, it is essential to keep your INR within the target range prescribed by your healthcare provider.
What is a healthy INR range?
The target INR range varies depending on the condition being treated. For example, the recommended INR range for DVT and pulmonary embolism is between 2.0 and 3.0, while the recommended range for atrial fibrillation is between 2.0 and 3.5. Your healthcare provider will determine your target INR range based on your medical history and current condition.
How to lower INR?
1. Take your medication as prescribed
One of the most essential steps in maintaining a healthy INR level is taking your medication as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Anticoagulants work by reducing the activity of clotting factors in your blood. Skipping doses or taking too much medication at once can cause your INR to fluctuate and put your health at risk. Therefore, it is important to take your medication exactly as prescribed.
2. Stay consistent with your diet
Your diet can also have an impact on your INR level. Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting, and certain foods such as leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and liver are high in vitamin K. If you are taking anticoagulants, it is essential to maintain a consistent intake of vitamin K-rich foods to avoid fluctuations in your INR level. Your healthcare provider may also recommend that you avoid or limit certain foods or supplements that can interfere with your medication’s effectiveness.
3. Monitor your INR level regularly
Regular monitoring of your INR level is essential to ensure that it remains within the target range prescribed by your healthcare provider. Depending on your condition, you may need to have your INR level checked weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. If your INR level is outside the target range, your healthcare provider may adjust your medication or provide additional instructions to help bring your INR back within the target range.
4. Avoid excessive alcohol consumption
Excessive alcohol consumption can affect your medication’s effectiveness, leading to fluctuations in your INR level. Therefore, it is essential to limit your alcohol intake or avoid alcohol altogether while taking anticoagulants. If you do decide to drink, it is crucial to do so in moderation and discuss this with your healthcare provider.
5. Maintain a healthy lifestyle
A healthy lifestyle can have a significant impact on your INR level. Regular exercise, avoiding smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight can help keep your INR level within the target range. Additionally, it is important to avoid activities that can put you at risk of injury, such as contact sports or high-impact exercises, which can increase your risk of bleeding.
Lowering your INR level requires a collaborative effort between you and your healthcare provider. By taking your medication as prescribed, staying consistent with your diet, monitoring your INR level regularly, avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can keep your INR level within the target range, reduce your risk of bleeding or clotting, and improve your overall health and wellbeing.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- Q: What are the symptoms of a high INR level?
- A: A high INR level can cause symptoms such as bruising, bleeding, and prolonged bleeding after injury or dental procedures.
- Q: What are the symptoms of a low INR level?
- A: A low INR level can cause symptoms such as blood clots, shortness of breath, chest pain, and swelling in the legs or arms.
- Q: How often should I have my INR level checked?
- A: The frequency of INR testing varies depending on your condition and the medication you are taking. Your healthcare provider may recommend weekly, biweekly or monthly testing.
- Q: Can I take over-the-counter medication while taking anticoagulants?
- A: Some over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen, can increase your risk of bleeding. Therefore, it is essential to discuss any over-the-counter medications or supplements with your healthcare provider before taking them.
1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. (2020). How is Atrial Fibrillation Treated? https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/atrial-fibrillation/treatment.
2. American Heart Association. (2021). Anticoagulants (Blood Thinners). https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/arrhythmia/prevention–treatment-of-arrhythmia/anticoagulants-blood-thinners.