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New Blood Thinner is Alternative to Warfarin for Stroke Prevention

New Blood Thinner is Alternative to Warfarin for Stroke Prevention
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Warfarin, more commonly known as Coumadin, has long been considered the gold standard blood-thinning medication prescribed to patients having an irregular heartbeat (atrial fibrillation), a condition which contributes to an increased risk of stroke.

But according to a recent study, a new drug known as rivaroxaban (Xarelto) has been found to be just as effective in reducing the risk of ischemic stroke without the need for close monitoring, dosage adjustments, and harsh dietary restrictions that accompany the use of warfarin.

Ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, is caused by an arterial blockage, such as a blood clot. By administering blood-thinning medications to individuals who suffer from atrial fibrillation to help prevent the occurrence of a blockage, the risk of stroke is significantly reduced.

Until now, warfarin has been the best available treatment for the condition, but the use of the drug carries the risk of potentially fatal bleeding, as well as bleeding in the brain, and requires careful monitoring for dosage adjustments, in addition to patient adherence to dietary restrictions.

Because the new drug has just one dosage for all patients, taken once daily, and does not require dietary restrictions, rivaroxaban may give warfarin some strong competition.

According to study author Dr. Manesh R. Patel, an assistant professor of medicine at Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina, rivaroxaban may be “a reasonable alternative to warfarin, with less intracranial or fatal bleeding.”

He also pointed out that when taking warfarin, “You can’t eat broccoli and other vitamin-K rich foods.” He then added, “It is a useful alternative with fewer drug-drug and drug-food interactions and may be significantly easier to take.”

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