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The Kirkby Anticoagulation Service offers an alternative to the hospital-based clinics for patients living in Kirkby who take anticoagulants such as Warfarin and need to have blood tests to check their international normalised ration (INR).
The INR test measures how long it takes for your blood to clot. The longer you blood takes to clot, the higher the INR. The clinic at St Chads Health Centre is run by pharmacists and pharmacy technicians who have undergone specialist training to be anticoagulant practitioners.
There are few clinics like this in the country. Most areas still rely on hospital clinics to monitor patients.
How the clinics work
Patients are usually referred from hospital clinics or the GP and an appointment will be given to them.
We currently have approximately 300 patients under the Anticoagulation Service (Kirkby) attending clinics on a regular basis.
The blood test machine is called a CoaguChek II pro plus machine.It only requires a small amount of blood from the finger and tests how long the blood takes to clot. The machine measures how thick or thin your blood is.
Why do we check your blood?
When you take an anticoagulant medication, it will make your blood thinner.
Your blood needs to be thinner to prevent blood clots from occurring. You are taking your anticoagulant to reduce the chance of you having a clot. Each patient requires different amounts of their medication.
If your blood is too thin then you are at risk of bleeding. So the aim is to keep your blood thin enough to prevent a clot but not too thin to cause any bleeding or bruising.
Your INR number tells us if your blood levels are too low, too high or just right.
What can you expect from the clinic?
- The clinic pharmacist or technician will monitor your INR to keep you in your target range
- They will adjust your dose if required, and you will be seen at least once every 12 weeks.
What the clinicians will expect from you
- You will need to let us know if you have started any new medications or had surgery or any treatments for example, thyroid or heart
- You will need to tell us if you have missed any doses of your medication
- We ask you to be honest and tell us about your alcohol intake
- You must keep your appointments or let us know if you cannot attend
- Remember to bring your yellow (anticoagulant) book to every clinic.
What does a high INR mean?
The higher the INR the thinner your blood is. If your INR is very high you will be at risk of (internal) bleeding. If your INR is high you may notice that your gums bleed, you may bruise much easier, or bleed for longer if for example you had a small cut or nose bleed.
What does a low INR mean?
The lower your INR is the thicker your blood is. If your INR is too low you will be more at risk of having a blood clot.
What causes INR to change?
Other than this medication there are many things that can alter the thickness of your blood. These include:
- Your health / your diet
- Other medication
- Alcohol intake (alcohol makes your INR number higher and your blood thinner).