8 steps to taking warfarin

Warfarin is a very effective medicine when taken correctly.

Follow these 8 steps, and work with your doctor and pharmacist, to ensure you are taking your warfarin correctly and safely.

Step 1: Know why you are taking warfarin

  • Warfarin is an anticoagulant drug that helps prevent blood clots from forming.
  • Blood clots can cause stroke or heart attack or other serious conditions.

Step 2: Take your warfarin exactly as prescribed

  • The two brands of warfarin Marevan® and Coumadin® are not the same. Always use the same brand.
  • Each brand comes in different strength tablets. Each strength has a different colour.
  • Take the exact dose of warfarin prescribed by your doctor.
  • Take your warfarin at about the same time of day.
Types of warfarin
Coumadin Marevan

Step 3: Know what to do if you miss a dose

  • If you forget for longer than 3-4 hours do not take that dose. Instead take your next dose as normal.
  • Never take a double dose.
  • Write down any missed or late doses.

Step 4: Have regular warfarin blood tests (INR)

  • Regular INR tests allow the dose of warfarin you need to be worked out and changed if necessary.
  • Record your INR test result and warfarin dose. Take your record to all your medical appointments.
  • It is a good idea to know what your INR should be.

Step 5: Talk to your doctor or pharmacist before starting, changing or stopping any medicines

  • All medicines, including natural and herbal products, may affect your warfarin.
Always ask “Is this OK to take while I am on warfarin?”

Step 6: Maintain a well balanced diet

  • Major changes in your diet or bowel habits may affect how your warfarin works.
  • Drink no more than 1-2 standard alcoholic drinks per day.

Step 7: Contact your doctor, pharmacist or hospital without delay if you have unusual bleeding such as:

  • dark red or brown urine
  • red or black bowel motions
  • vomiting or coughing up blood
  • cuts, nosebleeds or bleeding gums that go on for a long time
  • lots of unusual bruises
  • a severe headache

Step 8: Let others know you are taking warfarin

  • Inform all the health and dental professionals you see.
  • In case of an accident or emergency carry identification that says you take warfarin. Consider a Safety Alert Bracelet*.

* Gold and white card holders may be eligible for a DVA subsidised Safety Alert Bracelet

Looking for more information?

Talk to your doctor or pharmacist

Ask for a Home Medicines Review to learn more about your warfarin

For further information including the Safety Alert Bracelet subsidy call 1300 556 906

Return to top