New Guidelines OK Pradaxa Blood Thinner as Option for
MONDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- For patients with the heart
rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation, a new anti-clotting drug
called Pradaxa (dabigatran) can be used as an alternative to
warfarin, according to updated guidelines released Monday.
About 2 million Americans have atrial fibrillation, in which the
heart's two upper chambers beat erratically, causing uneven and
inefficient pumping of blood. As a result, blood can pool and clot
in the chambers, raising the risk of stroke or heart attack. Since
the 1950s, such patients have been prescribed warfarin, but the
drug requires regular testing and dosage adjustments.
The updated guidelines, issued by the American College of
Cardiology, American Heart Association and the Heart Rhythm
Society, say that Pradaxa can be used to prevent blood clots and
stroke in patients with either recurrent episodes of atrial
fibrillation that stop after seven days (called "paroxysmal") or
ongoing ("permanent") atrial fibrillation, and with risk factors
for blood clotting and stroke, provided that they don't have a
prosthetic heart valve, significant heart valve disease, severe
kidney failure or advanced liver disease.
The updated guidelines are published in the journals
HeartRhythm and the
Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
Last December, the groups released an updated guideline that
said a combination of aspirin and the drug Plavix (clopidogrel)
could be used to prevent blood clots and stroke in atrial
fibrillation patients who are poor candidates for warfarin.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about
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