If you are anticipating major surgery, then your physician may recommend stopping prescription anticoagulant medications and aspirin a week or more prior to your procedure. This is to reduce your risk for abnormal bleeding during your surgery. Following your hip replacement, however, while you recover in the hospital, your doctor will probably prescribe anticoagulants to lower your risk for a deep vein thrombosis or blood clots. Here are some things you should know about post-operative anticoagulant therapy following your hip replacement surgery.
How It Works
Prescription anticoagulants are often called "blood thinners," however, they do not actually thin your blood. Instead, they decrease the clotting ability of your blood so that it is less likely to form clots. This mechanism of action is known as decreasing platelet aggregation. In addition to hip replacement patients, anticoagulants are commonly prescribed to people who are at high risk for heart attacks and strokes to lower the risk for blood clots that can travel to the heart, lungs, and brain.
While you are receiving your anticoagulant medication, your leg on the side of your body that you had your hip surgery on will be closely monitored for proper blood flow. The nurses will assess your leg for any abnormalities such as excessive redness, unusual inflammation, severe pain, skin blotchiness, and excessive warmth or coldness. If any of these signs are noticed, your surgeon may order an ultrasound test of your leg to assess blood flow and to rule out a deep vein thrombosis.
Augmenting Your Anticoagulant Treatment
While anticoagulant medications significantly decrease your risk for postoperative blood clots, your surgeon will recommend additional interventions to further decrease your risk. These include wearing compression stockings to help promote vascular circulation. Compression stockings are made from elastic and gently compress your leg, which will help improve your venous blood flow. Compression stockings will also help decrease leg inflammation and post-operative discomfort.
In addition to compression stockings, walking also enhances the effects of prescription anticoagulants. Because of this, your surgeon will recommend that you start walking as soon as possible following your hip replacement surgery. Walking promotes venous circulation, which helps decrease blood clot risk.
If you are anticipating hip replacement surgery, talk to your physician about post-operative anticoagulant therapy. Most everyone who undergoes joint replacement surgery takes prophylactic anticoagulants during their recovery. Your doctor will prescribe anticoagulants for up to a couple of weeks, and because of this, you will continue to take them once you get home from the hospital following your joint replacement surgery. Reach out to a professional for more information about hip replacement surgery.