For Patients

FAQ: How long do I need to be on a blood thinner (anticoagulant)?

The length of time you will need to take blood-thinners is a highly individualized decision that will depend upon a number of factors your doctor will review with you, such as:

  • The location of the clot
  • Why the clot formed (what risk factors contributed to your clot)
  • An assessment of your risk for developing future clots if your blood thinner is stopped (what risk factors you have which may cause a clot recurrence)
  • How you have tolerated the blood thinner and what your risk for bleeding is if you stay on a blood thinner.

In general, if the risk of another clot is low, then short-term treatment for 3 months is often sufficient. This is long enough for the present clot to heal. However, if the risk for developing another clot is high, then treatment for more than 3 months may be appropriate. This typically means long-term (also referred to as “extended”) treatment which can last several years and, in some cases, lifelong. 

  • If you take blood-thinners long-term, you should have a visit approximately once per year with your doctor to discuss how well you have tolerated the medication, if the medication is still needed, and to learn of any new medications or research advances which might change how you get treated.

Learn more:  A detailed discussion of the specific factors which influence length of treatment with blood thinners.