Atrial fibrillation (AFib) – causes the upper chambers of the heart to beat irregularly, and allows little pools of blood to gather. As the blood pools, clots are likely. These clots can travel to the brain and cause a stroke. Nearly 3 million people in the U.S. alone have this abnormal heart rhythm. The following four drugs have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat this serious condition. But be aware, one of the drugs is facing serious allegations in Xarelto lawsuit litigation.
Warfarin, sold under the brand names Coumadin and Jantoven, hit the U.S. market in the 1950s and for decades remained the only drug approved for the prevention of blood clots and stroke in patients who have AFib. It is also used in the treatment and prevention of blood clots in the veins and to reduce the risks of heart attack and stroke from blood clots.
Use of warfarin requires close monitoring of the blood to ensure the patients remains safe at their therapeutic dosage levels. Patients must have monthly if not weekly blood tests, monitor their intake of foods that have Vitamin K, and be vigilant against taking any of the wide range of medications and supplements that can interact with warfarin.
In 2012, the blood thinner apixaban, sold under the brand name Eliquis hit the market as a prescription drug used to treat AFib and to prevent blood clots in patients who have received a knee or hip replacement implant. Eliquis is manufactured and distributed by Bristol-Meyers Squibb and healthcare giant Pfizer Inc.
Side Effects of Eliquis include uncontrolled bleeding events of the gastrointestinal tract, brain, and under the cranium for which there is no antidote. The drug has also been associated with deep vein thrombosis, stroke, and fatal clots.
Rivaroxaban was approved by the FDA in 2011 to treat AFib, and then was approved again in 2012 for the prevention and treatment of deep vein thrombosis, blood clots that occur in the legs, and pulmonary embolism where a blood clot breaks free, travels to the lungs, and causes an arterial blockage of blood flow.
Side effects of Xarelto include uncontrolled bleeding events for which there is no reversal agent. Researchers have linked this drug to an increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeds and transfusions than certain other similar drugs on the market. The drug has also been linked to wound infections, eye hemorrhage, excessive blood loss, and intracranial bleeds.
Approved for use in the prevention of blood clots and stroke in patients with AFib in 2011, dabigatran, sold under the brand name Pradaxa, is also used for the treatment and prevention of blood clots in patients with AFib. It is also approved for the prevention and treatment of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Pradaxa is made by Boehringer Ingelheim.
Side Effects of Pradaxa include hemorrhaging, uncontrolled bleeding, increased risk of heart attack and the symptoms of heart attack when compared to warfarin. As with the other drugs on the list, Pradaxa doesn’t have a reversal agent, so if an excessive or uncontrolled bleed starts, physicians may be unable to stop it.