Anticoagulants are a class of chemicals that are used to prevent or reduce blood clots. This group of drugs is commonly referred to as blood thinners and work to prolong the time it takes for a blood clot to form. Anticoagulants can be used as a treatment option for patients with myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) who have had an abnormal blood clot such as a deep vein thrombus (DVT). These drugs can work to prevent new clots from forming and prevent existing clots from growing.

In myeloproliferative neoplasms, the bone marrow creates too many blood cells and increases the risk of abnormal blood clots, also called abnormal thrombosis. In patients with a history of clotting or patients at risk for blood clots, an anticoagulant can be an effective treatment option.

Anticoagulants are not the same as antiplatelet therapies, such as aspirin. The difference between these medications is the mechanism in which they work. Anticoagulants target clotting factors (blood proteins dissolved in blood plasma) whereas antiplatelet therapies inhibit platelets from participating in the clotting process.

There are four different classes of anticoagulants: vitamin K antagonists, low molecular weight heparins (LMWH), thrombin inhibitors, and factor Xa inhibitors. Each class operates through a different mechanism to prevent blood from clotting. These drugs can interact with other medications, food, and supplements, so consult with your doctor before taking any anticoagulant.

Side Effects

Common side effects:

  • Bleeding
  • Abdominal pain
  • Flatulence
  • Headache
  • Lethargy
  • Dizziness
  • Fever
  • Nausea
  • Local injection site reactions
  • Anemia
  • Bruises
  • Diarrhea

Additional information about anti-coagulants can be found here:


Richard T. Silver MD Myeloproliferative Neoplasms Center 525 East 70th St., Starr Pavillion, 3rd Floor New York, NY 10021