New blood thinners have fewer disadvantages than Coumadin
Two new blood thinners, Xarelto (rivaroxaban) and Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate) have been approved by the FDA for patients with atrial fibrillation that is not caused by a heart valve problem. The application of a third drug, Eliquis (apixaban), is being considered. Atrial fibrillation is the most common type of irregular heartbeat and can lead to blood clots, which can travel to the brain and cause strokes. These new medications come with fewer disadvantages than Coumadin (warfarin), which has been the only anti-coagulant used to treat atrial fibrillation for the past three decades. Patients on Coumadin have to be monitored frequently with doctor visits. They also need to restrict their diets, including limiting their intake of alcohol, and vitamin K-rich foods including spinach and green tea. According to Sarkis Morales-Vidal, first author of a review article on the new drugs, they are more expensive than Coumadin but reduce costs of patient monitoring and blood testing.