The blood thinner Xarelto® is prescribed to many patients who are at risk of blood clots and strokes. However, there are many extreme side effects of Xarelto, including uncontrollable and excessive bleeding that can be fatal for some patients. In this article, we will discuss some alternative blood thinning medications, including the known risks and potential benefits of each one.
What Are Some Alternatives for Patients Taking Xarelto?
Nearly six million Americans rely on anticoagulant medications for treatment of non-valvular atrial fibrillation, a type of irregular heartbeat. One out of every four people over age 40 is at risk of developing this condition, which also increases their chances of suffering disabling or fatal strokes. Anticoagulants can work in many different ways, but all of them prevent clot formation and help keep blood traveling smoothly throughout the body.
There are many prescription blood thinners on the market, and each one carries its own risks and benefits. The most commonly-prescribed medications include:
- Heparin. Heparin is a naturally-occurring anticoagulant derived from the intestines of pigs and cattle. One of the earliest-marketed blood thinners, heparin was first introduced in the United States in the 1930s. The drug works by binding with blood proteins and platelets, stopping the formation of clots in surgical patients, patients with myocardial infarction, and people with unstable angina. Patients taking heparin need frequent blood tests to make sure their clotting factors do not put them at risk of bleeds, and those with poor kidney function may not be good candidates for heparin treatment.
- Lovenox®. Lovenox (enoxaparin sodium) is a version of heparin used to prevent and treat deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism. Lovenox works by inhibiting blood-clotting proteins, stopping blood clots from forming. The medication is only available as an injection, and carries a black-box warning about the use of the drug in patients who have spinal catheters or epidurals, as it increases the risk for spinal or epidural hematomas.
- Warfarin. Coumadin® and its generic form, warfarin, interfere with chemicals called clotting factors to prevent clot formation. Although these anticoagulants have been used for decades, they require blood monitoring by doctors, often need frequent dose adjustments, and may require some diet and lifestyle changes. It's commonly used in wide variety of at-risk patients, such as people who have suffered heart attacks, have undergone heart valve replacements, or have chronic irregular heartbeats. If a patient suffers excessive bleeding, the effects of warfarin and Coumadin can be reversed with a dose of vitamin K.
- Pradaxa®. Pradaxa (dabigatran) is in a class of anticoagulants called thrombin inhibitors, meaning the drug stops the formation of blood clots. It works similarly to warfarin, but does not require frequent blood tests. A major benefit of this medication is that excessive bleeding can be reversed with an antidote called Praxbind® (idarucizumab).
- Eliquis®. Eliquis (apixaban) is a factor Xa inhibitor anticoagulant that prevents the formation of blood clots. The medication was developed as an alternative to warfarin, but like Xarelto, Eliquis doesn't have an antidote to reverse excessive bleeding. The most common side effects suffered by patients includes bleeding in the stomach, intestinal tract, and urinary tract.
Speak with Your Doctor Before Stopping Xarelto
While another drug may offer more benefits to you, you should discuss all options with your doctor before making any medication changes. Patients who suddenly stop a course of Xarelto or alter the dosage are likely to suffer blood clots or bleeding, so you must be carefully monitored by a doctor when transitioning blood-thinning medications.
If you or someone you love suffered severe bleeding or other side effect of taking Xarelto, the McGartland Law Firm can help. We've recovered millions of dollars in settlements for clients injured by dangerous drugs, and we don't collect any legal fees unless we win your case. Contact us today to speak to an attorney about your claim.