What Is INR Testing?
Source: National Blood Clot Alliance
Also known as prothrombin time (PT), INR testing is designed to measure the time for the blood to clot. In other words, INR (international normalised ratio) is used to monitor blood-thinning medicines (anticoagulants) and how they work. Besides this, INR testing can also be made to see if a patient has any kind of blood clotting problems.
Wondering how is this done? Well, the liver produces prothrombin – a protein designed to maintain the blood’s consistency. With the help of an INR machine/device, this can be tested and seen how long it takes for the blood to clot. Preventing blood clotting can be done with the help of medication, and doctors usually prescribe warfarin to their patients.
In order to be sure whether warfarin is working or not, the patient should do an INR testing, so the doctor should be able to see how warfarin increases the blood clotting time. Each patient can react differently to warfarin as many factors may affect its work like weight, genetics, diet, some other illnesses, etc. So, this is why warfarin or any other anticoagulant needs to be supervised.
By doing this, the doctor will know if the warfarin dose is right or not. Besides for this purpose, an INR self monitoring device can also be used for checking any bleeding conditions, for checking for any blood clotting problems before surgery, for checking the liver’s condition, and so on.
Benefits of Home INR Testing
Source: The Bangor Aye
Instead of going to a hospital to check on the blood clotting results, with the help of a quality and accurate INR self monitoring device, you can do this in the comfort of your own home. Although they are not recommended for everybody, these amazing INR testing machines are great for:
- Patients who are willing and able to perform this testing at home;
- Patients who have complied with any previous anticoagulation management;
- Patients whose healthcare provider approves the use of these INR home testing devices.
The greatest benefit of these devices is that the obtained results can be replicated with the INR results that are obtained from venous blood draws. An important thing you need to know is that patients who are affected by the clotting disorder APLS or APS (antiphospholipid antibody syndrome) can show unreliable results done by INR self-testing. In such patients, the INR readings can be extremely high or the INR device can show an error message. So, for such patients, the INR levels should be checked in a laboratory.
Comparing both of these readings can help the doctor see whether the values are similar or not. If they are similar or the same, it might be accepted for an APS patient to use INR home device.
A Few Words About the Actual Testing
Source: Medical Actu
The INR device for home monitoring is the same as the ones used in clinics or a doctor’s office. They are small and lightweight, but most importantly, accurate which explains their use in medical facilities. INR machines require only a small amount of blood (approximately one small to one larger drop of blood) that should be applied to a test strip.
Once done, within a short period of time, the device will show the results and the patient should call his doctor’s office in order to read the results. The best thing of all about these self-testing devices is that they give you the opportunity to enter the results online into an online portal. Some of them even feature wireless and automated transmission of the results to the healthcare provider. That way, the healthcare provider or clinic will be able to provide feedback to the patient regarding any medication adjustment.
One of the most common concerns people have is ‘Are there any preparations for this test’, and truth be told, there are none. However, you should consult with your doctor about any medicines and supplements you might be taking. You should also specify to him about any changes in your diet and health conditions. This can give him a clear picture of your current health condition and about the future INR test readings.
Understanding the Test Results
Once the test is ready, if the INR is too high, it means that your blood clots too slowly and there is a risk of bleeding. In case the INR readings are too low, it means you have a risk of developing a blood clot. In case you are not taking warfarin and the INR results are higher than normal, your doctor will probably suggest some more tests in order to give you the right treatment.