Anticoagulants are drugs (e.g. heparin, warfarin, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban, edoxaban) that interfere in the normal clotting process of your body lengthening the time needed to form a blood clot. In particular anticoagulants block one of the elements (proteins) of the clotting reaction.
Decreased clotting prevents harmful blood clots from blocking major blood vessels such as the ones of the heart and lungs, the brain or the leg leading to heart attack and pulmonary embolism, stroke or foot gangrene respectively. Anticoagulants are also used as treatment of choice for established blood clots, not because they dissolve them but because they strongly prevent new ones from forming.
Clot dissolving is part of the body’s natural protective mechanisms that is releasing of natural clot busters. Anticoagulant drugs should not be confused with the clot busting drugs (thrombolytics) that can be administered in critical acute medical conditions (e.g. stroke, heart attack, pulmonary embolism, leg arterial or vein clots).
Tips for Blood Thinner Users (PDF download)