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A different blood thinner

Created date

October 25th, 2011

In 2010, The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate) for the prevention of stroke and blood clots in people with atrial fibrillation, a common abnormal heart rhythm. For many years, the most commonly prescribed blood thinner for atrial fibrillation has been Coumadin (warfarin). People taking warfarin need to undergo periodic monitoring of their blood s clotting times and have their medication adjusted accordingly. In addition, people taking warfarin need to be cautious about how much vitamin K they consume in their diets.

Pros and cons

Dabigatranworks a little differently. In a safety and efficacy clinical trial, patients takingdabigatranhad fewer strokes than those who tookwarfarin. And withdabigatran, regular blood monitoring is not required and there are no dietary restrictions. But there are some downsides to this new drug. As with any anticoagulant, abnormal or serious bleeding can occur. Other reported side effects include stomach pain, nausea, heartburn, and bloating. You have to take the same precautions against bleeding that you do if you are taking any blood thinner such as avoiding activities that may result in bumps and bruises, and avoiding the use of straight razors or stiff toothbrushes. Dabigatranalso has special storage and handling requirements due to the potential for breakdown from moisture or other conditions. It must stay in its original container, so you can t put it into your pillbox. And it is more costly than warfarin approximately $250 a month. Your Medicare Part D may or may not cover it, or you may have a high co-payment, depending upon who administers your drug plan. Only your doctor can determine if you are a candidate fordabigatran.