The US Department of Health and Human Services says that almost 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year. 658,000 of these individuals survive, and thanks to medications their chances of having another stroke are lower than ever.
Pradaxa® is an anticoagulant which can help reduce the risk of developing blood clots in patients who have Atrial Fibrillation (AFib). It is also used to treat and prevent Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) or Pulmonary Embolism (PE). Pradaxa® is available under the generic name dabigatran.
For patients with DVT or PE, Pradaxa® is prescribed to treat blood clots in the veins in your lungs (PE) or legs (DVT) and help reduce the chance of developing further clots.
For patients with AFib, Pradaxa® helps reduce the chance of blood clots forming and helps reduce your risk of stroke.
Blood thinners don’t actually thin your blood. There are two types of blood thinners.
- Anticoagulants work by slowing down your body’s ability to create clots. Prescription anticoagulants include:
- Antiplatelets (like Aspirin or Plavix) prevent cells (platelets) from sticking together to create a clot.
How does Pradaxa® work?
Pradaxa ® is an anticoagulant which blocks thrombin, a clotting protein. When the protein is blocked, blood clots are prevented, which helps reduce your risk of stroke. As well, it will treat and prevent blood clots in the veins in your lungs (PE) or legs (DVT).
Who should take Pradaxa®?
Your doctor will prescribe Pradaxa® based on your health, risks, other medications you may be taking and how well you respond to this medication.
How do I take Pradaxa®?
The active ingredient in Pradaxa® is dabigatran etexilate mesylate. It is available in three strengths.
Take your prescription Pradaxa® exactly as prescribed. It is important to work with your doctor to have periodic blood tests to check kidney function. Do not stop this medication on your own and do not increase or decrease the dose without medical guidance.
If you are scheduled for surgery, you may need to stop this medication a day or two before surgery, including dental surgery. Speak to your doctor for guidance on how to do this safely.
What are the side effects of Pradaxa®?
Common side effects of Pradaxa® include indigestion, upset stomach and stomach pain. It is a good idea to talk to your doctor or pharmacist if these minor side effects don’t improve.
Pradaxa® is an anticoagulant and therefore you may be at risk for bleeding. Your risk for bleeding while on this medication is higher if:
- You are over 75 years of age
- You have a stomach ulcer or other intestinal/stomach bleeding issues
- You are taking other NSAIDs for long-term use
- You are taking Coumadin®, Jantoven® or other warfarin sodium medications.
- You are taking a medication with heparin in it
- You are taking Plavix® (clopidogrel bisulfate)
- You are taking Nizoral® (ketoconazole) or Multaq® (dronedarone) and also have kidney problems
Talk to your pharmacist for a complete list of other considerations you must be aware of before taking Pradaxa®.
Seek immediate medical attention if you experience any of these negative side effects:
- Unusual bruising
- Vomiting or coughing up blood
- Dark urine or pink urine
- Black or tarry stools
- Joint pain or unexpected pain
- Headaches or dizziness
- Uncontrollable bleeding
How do I know if I am at risk for stroke?
There are definitely several risk factors and lifestyle factors that may put you at higher risk for stroke, including:
- Having had a previous stroke or transient ischemic attack
- Heart disease (such as AFib)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of stroke
- Drug abuse
- Lack of physical activity
- Certain medications such as birth control pills
- Genetic blood-clotting disorders or vascular disorders
Speak to your doctor about your particular health risks and what you can do to lessen your chance of stroke.
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This article contains medical information provided to help you better understand this particular medical condition or process, and may contain information about medication often used as part of a treatment plan prescribed by a doctor. It is not intended to be used as either a diagnosis or recommendation for treatment of your particular medical situation. If you are unwell, concerned about your physical or mental state, or are experiencing symptoms you should speak with your doctor or primary health care provider. If you are in medical distress please contact emergency services (such as 911).