Should I be taking a blood thinner (anti-coagulant)?

Only your doctor can address whether you should be treated with anti-coagulants.

In some patients, PH is due to blood clots in the lungs (also known as CTEPH).

  • In patients who have PH because of blood clots in the lungs, the usual treatment is blood thinners (also known as anti-coagulants).
  • Anti-coagulants reduce the risk of having more blood clots in the lungs (recurrent pulmonary embolism).
  • In some patients with PH due to blood clots, PH will improve following treatment with anti-coagulants.

In most patients with PH, PH is not due to blood clots in the lungs.

However, anti-coagulant treatment can also help some patients with PH.

  • The high blood pressure in the pulmonary arteries (also known as high pulmonary artery pressure = PAP) can damage the innermost lining cells (also known as endothelial cells) of the pulmonary arteries.
  • Endothelial cells normally prevent blood clots from forming in the pulmonary arteries.
  • Damage to endothelial cells in PH may lead to blood clots forming in the pulmonary arteries.
  • These blood clots can make PH worse.
  • Anti-coagulants can prevent these blood clots from forming.
  • In some patients with PH, treatment with anti-coagulants improves the chance of living longer.
  • In patients with idiopathic PAH (IPAH, previously known as PPH), treatment with anti-coagulants is recommended, although recent retrospective data makes this recommendation more controversial.

Blood Clots in the Pulmonary Arteries