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What is Pradaxa®?
Pradaxa®, also known by the generic name dabigatran, is a prescription medication that falls under the category of oral anticoagulant as a direct thrombin inhibitor, more commonly known as “blood thinners”. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in October, 2010, this medication is designed to help prevent the blood from coagulating, or clotting.This helps lower the risk of stroke for patients who struggle with atrial fibrillation by reducing the chances that a blood clot will form and release into the bloodstream.This is only beneficial for those who have atrial fibrillation that is not associated with heart valve malfunction, but may also be beneficial in reducing risks for systemic embolism, or a blockage in a systemic artery.
How Does It Work
Pradaxa® contains the active ingredient dabigatran etexilate which acts specifically on thrombin in the body. Thrombin is an enzyme in the blood plasma which converts a protein called fibrinogen into a different substance called fibrin. Fibrin is essential for the body to create a blood clot. In general, this conversion is only meant to occur when the body needs to stop bleeding, such as with an open cut or wound. However, it can also occur in the blood vessels or chambers of the heart, as seen with atrial fibrilation. Pradaxa inhibits thrombin, which reduces the body’s ability to form a clot in the atria or other areas of the body, reducing the risk for stroke.
Pradaxa Verses Warfarin
For decades, the blood thinning drug of choice to prevent strokes in patients with atrial fibrillation was warfarin. However, warfarin has several disadvantages in comparison to Pradaxa® when it comes to both dosing and side effects. For example, warfarin can take days before effects are seen, causing the need for sometimes daily testing through the first few days to ensure the individual dosing is correct. Even after a correct dosing is found, regular testing is needed to ensure that the dosing remains effective over the entire course of use. If not, the blood can become too thin, resulting in a greater risk of emergency from bleeding problems. In comparison, Pradaxa® works within just a few hours of the first dose and rarely has a need for much dosing changes. Pradaxa® also has less drug interactions, causes less bleeding problems, and has less issues with vitamin K intake interfering with the medication. With so many advantages, many patients and doctors have chosen to switch over to Pradaxa®.
Pradaxa Side Effects
Although Pradaxa® is generally safer to take than warfarin, there are still side effects to remain aware of when taking the medication. The main side effect of Pradaxa is gastrointestinal discomfort. Each capsule of the medication contains a type of acid called tartaric acid, which affects the gastric pH balance of your digestive system by lowering it. This increases the chances of GI discomfort, as well as the risks for GI bleeding. Other more mild possible side effects include diarrhea, stomach pain, indigestion, heartburn, nausea and mild itching or rashes on the skin.
Pradaxa® Side Effects May Include:
Chest pain, chest tightness, swelling of face or tongue, trouble breathing or wheezing, feeling dizzy or faint
Other Side Effects May Include:
Indigestion, upset stomach, burning, stomach pain
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