If you’ve been prescribed anticoagulation medication, such as warfarin, regularly performing INR blood tests is a must to ensure its effectiveness. An INR test calculates how long it takes for a clot to form in a blood sample. The results will help your doctor determine if the medication is working the way it should.
When you have a cut or other injury that causes bleeding, your clotting factors work together to form a blood clot. If your clotting factor levels are too low, they can cause you to bleed too much. If your levels are too high, this can lead to dangerous clots forming in your arteries or veins. An INR test allows you to know if your blood is clotting normally.
An INR test is often used to:
- Find out how well the medication is working
- Find out the reason for unusual bleeding
- Find out the reason for abnormal blood clots
- Check clotting function before surgery
- Check for liver problems.
If you are bruising easily or are experiencing unexplained heavy bleeding, unusually heavy nose bleeds, leg pain or tenderness, leg swelling, redness or red streaks on the legs, trouble breathing or rapid heartbeat, you may need an INR test.
If you’re wondering how to perform an INR test, it can be done in your doctor’s office or at home with a self-testing device, such as the Coaguchek XS System. This portable device allows you to measure your INR at frequent intervals in the comfort of your home.
How to Use Coaguchek XS?
When you buy a Coaguchek XS System, it comes packaged as a kit, including the Coagucheck device, a power supply unit or four AAA batteries, lancing device and lancet, a carry case and the user manual. The consumable materials used in testing need to be purchased separately. They include the test strips and the code chip which corresponds to and provides specific information about each set of test strips, including expiry dates and calibration date.
You may need to attend a structured educational program to receive training on how to use the device, how to record and interpret or report results and how often to self-test. During the program, you’ll also receive instructions to prevent complications, such as information on your target INR and what to do if you have a result outside of the normal range. Note that the INR can vary with changes in diet, medication and illnesses, so it’s important that you inform your health professional if you are taking medications, even if it is dietary supplements so that they can make changes in your medication and/or diet.
In order to maintain a safe and reliable INR machine for measuring the INR, you should operate the device according to the instructions and should avoid removing or inserting a code ship whilst the meter is performing the measurement. You should also avoid using a code chip from a box of test strips other than the one in use. To prevent this from happening, change the code chip each time you begin using a new set of the test strip and discard the old chip.
For your convenience, results are automatically stored within the device. It can keep up to 100 results stored. When 100 tests are used, the oldest result is deleted to make room for the new values. The results stored in the memory can also be downloaded to another device.
Who Can Use the Device
In order to use the Coagucheck XS, it’s important that you don’t have any limitations that would prevent you from using it suitably. This includes physical limitations such as arthritis or amputations involving the hands, cognitive limitations that prevent proper use of the device or interpretation of the results, problems attending training sessions and failing training assessments.
How to Calibrate Coaguchek XS?
When using the device for the first time, you must set the correct date and time to ensure the device provides correct measures. When the batteries are replaced, you’ll also need to check that the date and time are correct. If necessary, the date and time should be reset. Instructions for setting the date and time can be found on the device’s user manual.
Tips to Improve INR Test
Before performing the test, a few simple measures can be taken to increase blood flow to the finger. For example, you can warm your hands and fingers by holding your hand under your armpit, or use a hand warmer or washing the hands with warm water. You can also lower your hand below the waist or massage the finger from its base towards the tip.
If you are interested in doing INR self-testing at home, talk to your doctor about the possibility and carefully consider your medical history, diagnosis, treatment plan, current situation and long-term goals. Your doctor is the best person to help determine if this route is right for you. Also, remember that training and consistent quality control of the device are essential for an effective and safe INR self-testing.