The INR [International Normalized Ratio] blood test is often given with another test called the prothrombin time blood test. A third blood test, the PTT [partial thromboplastin time] blood test is also used frequently. Together they help a medical provider be able to diagnose the cause of abnormal bleeding that a patient may be experiencing. It is also frequently used to monitor patients that are being treated with medications that thin their blood.
There are proteins within the blood that help it to form clots when there is an injury that causes bleeding. The proteins are activated in a sequence of steps so that eventually the bleeding can stop on its own. When there is a malfunction with one of those steps, then the bleeding can be longer than normal or appear in unusual places within the body. It can also cause inappropriate clotting in the body that can lead to potentially dangerous health conditions.
When To Ask About the INR Blood Test
The INR blood test is a common test that is ordered routinely with warfarin therapy. If someone is not receiving blood thinners, then any signs or symptoms that indicate either excessive bleeding or excessive clotting may trigger a medical provider to order this blood test.
The most common symptom is unexplained bleeding or easy bruising that occurs. Everyone has the occasional bruise which forms from impacts they may not remember. People who may wish to have the INR blood test have these mysterious bruises occur frequently – even daily. There may also be bleeding gums despite good oral care, frequent nosebleeds, an acute condition involving a blood clot, or the presence of severe liver disease.
This blood test may also be ordered before a scheduled surgery just to make sure there isn’t an increased risk of blood loss which may occur during the procedure. Speak with your physician about a history of frequent nosebleeds or bruising before a surgery.
What Do My INR Blood Test Results Mean?
Most blood test results for the INR are communicated with a specific number. For someone that needs to have their blood thinned for some reason, a normal result would be somewhere between 2.0-3.0. If a patient has a high risk of forming a blood clot, then they would have a higher normal result between 2.5-3.5.
If there is a result that is lower than these figures, then this places a patient at a higher risk of experiencing bleeding or clotting that is inappropriate. If this occurs when the signs and symptoms of such health issues are present, then a treatment plan which involves a blood thinning medication may be ordered.
For test results that are higher than these levels, it means that the blood is actually thinner than it should be. This would require an adjustment to the person’s treatment plan or a deeper look at the health issues that are being addressed. Prolonged results for clotting can be an indication that there is a deficiency in vitamin K, liver disease present, or that there is a coagulation factor deficiency present for some reason.
Someone who is not taking a blood thinning medication should have their INR blood test results fall within the normal range result that the testing laboratory offers.
Here’s What You Need To Know
The consumption of alcohol directly affects the INR blood test. Other consumed substances may also affect results. Your doctor may ask you about your lifestyle habits not to invade your privacy, but to determine if there are any changes which may need to be made so that an accurate test result can be obtained.
Certain foods can also alter the INR blood test results, especially if they are high in levels of vitamin K. You may be asked to decrease your consumption of broccoli, chickpeas, hummus, soybeans, turnips, and beef or pork liver. Some multivitamins may also be discontinued until the blood test so that the results can be correctly interpreted.
Some laboratories and medical providers prefer to communicate their test results as a percentage above or below normal instead of a direct result. It is not common, but will not affect your overall treatment plan.
The INR blood test can help to determine what may be affecting the coagulation of your blood or if a blood thinning medication is working as it should for your treatment plan. If you are experiencing the signs and symptoms of inappropriate bleeding or clotting, then be sure to use this guide to speak with your doctor as soon as you can about whether or not this test could be right for you.