Anticoagulants, commonly referred to as blood thinners, are chemical substances that prevent or reduce coagulation of blood, prolonging the clotting time. Some of them occur naturally in blood-eating animals such as leeches and mosquitoes, where they help keep the bite area unclotted long enough for the animal to obtain some blood. As a class of medications, anticoagulants are used in therapy for thrombotic disorders. Oral anticoagulants (OACs) are taken by many people in pill or tablet form, and various intravenous anticoagulant dosage forms are used in hospitals. Some anticoagulants are used in medical equipment, such as test tubes, blood transfusion bags, and dialysis equipment.
Anticoagulants are closely related to antiplatelet drugs and thrombolytic drugs by manipulating the various pathways of blood coagulation. Specifically, antiplatelet drugs inhibit platelet aggregation (clumping together), whereas anticoagulants inhibit the coagulation cascade by clotting factors that happens after the initial platelet aggregation.
Common anticoagulants include warfarin and heparin.
Reference: Wikipedia 2019. “Anticoagulant.” Accessed January 31, 2019.