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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
The INR, or International Normalized Ratio, is a measure of how long it takes your blood to clot. A prothrombin time (PT) is a another blood test done to help measure your INR. The higher your PT or INR, the longer your blood takes to clot. An elevated PT or INR means your blood is taking longer to clot than your healthcare provider believes is healthy for you. When your PT or INR is too high, you have an increased risk of bleeding.
Prevent an elevated INR:
- Have your INR measured regularly. You may need to have your INR measured every few days until it is stable, and then only once a month. You may have blood drawn at the office of either your healthcare provider or a specialist. Some people can test their blood at home.
- If you take medicine, take it as directed. Contact your healthcare provider or specialist before you take other medicines or supplements, because they may elevate your INR.
- Eat the same amount of vitamin K daily to keep your INR stable. Vitamin K changes how your blood clots and affects your INR. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables, broccoli, grapes, and other foods. Ask your healthcare provider for more information about what to eat when you have an elevated INR.
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol increases your INR. Ask your healthcare provider or specialist how much alcohol is safe for you.
- Do not smoke. If you smoke, it is never too late to quit. Smoking can affect the way your blood clots. Ask for information if you need help quitting.
Decrease your risk of bleeding:
- Avoid activities that may cause bleeding or bruising.
- Brush and shave gently. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor to avoid bleeding.
- Tell your dentist and other healthcare providers if you take anticoagulant medicine or have a bleeding disorder. Wear medical alert jewelry, or carry a card that gives this information. Ask where you can get these items.
Follow up with your healthcare provider or specialist as directed:
You may need to return to have more tests. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.
Contact your healthcare provider or specialist if:
- Your menstrual period is heavier than normal.
- You see blood in your urine.
- Your bowel movement is bloody or black.
- You bruise or bleed more than normal, your gums bleed, or you have frequent nosebleeds.
- You have pain or swelling in your joints.
- Your fingers or toes turn dark purple.
- You have more headaches than normal, or your headaches are different than before.
- You have questions or concerns about your care.
Return to the emergency department if:
- You throw up blood, or your vomit looks like coffee grounds.
- You have any kind of bleeding that does not stop in 15 minutes.
- Your leg feels warm, tender, and painful. It may look swollen and red.
- You have any of the following signs of a stroke:
- Numbness or drooping on one side of your face
- Weakness in an arm or leg
- Confusion or difficulty speaking
- Dizziness, a severe headache, or vision loss
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.