Warfarin or Pradaxa? Making the choice.

Dr. Geoffrey Barnes weighs the pros and cons of atrial fibrillation meds

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Atrial fibrillation (also know as Afib) is a quivering or irregular heartbeat (arrhythmia) that can lead to blood clotsstroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. According to the American Heart Association, approximately 2.7 million Americans are living with Afib.

Atrial fibrillation has long been treated with the blood thinner Coumadin, also known as warfarin, which was approved by the FDA in 1954. However, new blood thinners, or anticoagulants, to treat Afib have come on the market in the last six years, including one known as Pradaxa. Continue reading

Goodbye to blood-thinners?

Breakthrough treatment for Afib might be right for you

Afib-Blog_resizedAtrial fibrillation, or Afib, is the most common cardiac arrhythmia, resulting in a fast or irregular heart rhythm among more than 5 million Americans. Afib is traditionally treated with blood-thinners or anticoagulants such as warfarin, but a new device, recently approved by the FDA, is changing the way Afib is treated.

The WATCHMAN™ Left Arial Appendage Closure Device offers patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation a potentially life-changing stroke risk treatment option that could free them from the challenges of long-term warfarin therapy.

The Frankel Cardiovascular Center is among the first heart centers in the nation to use the WATCHMAN Device. With stroke being one of the most feared consequences of Afib, the WATCHMAN Device has proved to be a viable alternative to blood-thinning medications, which are not well-tolerated by some patients and have a significant risk for bleeding complications. Continue reading

Beyond the sticker shock of Warfarin alternatives

Analysis shows costs savings without frequent blood draws and fewer complications

Pills spillDoctors who are worried about the risk of stroke among their patients with the abnormal heart rhythm atrial fibrillation often look to anticoagulants for help – medicines that prevent dangerous blood clots, but can cost a lot.

Cardiovascular specialists at the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center looked at the cost of dabigatran (Pradaxa) which is part of the new class of anticoagulants. They are simpler to use and less risky than Warfarin.

Medicare will spend an average of $75,496 to cover the cost of dabigatran for a 65-year-old with Medicare Part D coverage, compared to Warfarin’s cost of about $61,586. Research by the University of Michigan presented at this week’s American Heart Association scientific sessions reveals that in spite of the price tag, the new medicines can be cost-effective.

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Warfarin and Coumadin precautions

Five things you need to know when taking anticoagulants

Anticoagulants like Coumadin or Jantoven are prescribed to prevent the formation of blood clots.

People taking anticoagulants like Coumadin or Jantoven need to stay in close contact with their healthcare providers.

Many things factor into an individual’s international normalized ratio or INR, which is a measurement of the time it takes for a person’s blood to clot. A patient’s INR must be closely monitored when taking warfarin, also known as Coumadin or Jantoven, so it’s important to stay in close contact with your healthcare provider to avoid dangers associated with taking anticoagulant meds.

5 important warfarin and Coumadin precautions you should take:

  1. Call your healthcare provider if you get sick (including diarrhea, nausea or vomiting).
  2. Call your healthcare provider if you start or stop taking any medications, including over-the-counter medications and supplements.
  3. Notify your healthcare provider if your diet has changed recently, especially if your consumption of green, leafy vegetables or alcohol has changed.
  4. Get all medications from the same pharmacy to avoid the possibility of harmful drug interactions.
  5. Notify your healthcare provider if you forget to take a dose of your warfarin.

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Important anticoagulant precautions

Vitamin K and aspirin can have a critical impact on blood-thinning meds

Blood measuring 450x320

Blood-thinning medications can be impacted by vitamin K and aspirin-containing products.

The formation of a clot in the body is a complex process that involves multiple substances called “clotting factors.” Clotting factors are proteins made in the liver. Some of these proteins, however, cannot be created without vitamin K, a common vitamin found in:

  • cabbage
  • cauliflower
  • spinach
  • other leafy green vegetables

Because anticoagulants such as warfarin (also known as Coumadin® or Jantoven®) slow clot formation by competing with vitamin K, it’s important to maintain a consistent daily intake of vitamin K and to be aware of anticoagulant precautions. Each person’s warfarin dosage is related to the amount of vitamin K in his or her body. If you overload your system with vitamin K, you override the effectiveness of the blood-thinning medication. Continue reading

Who takes warfarin?

Medication prescribed to prevent blood clots in A-fib patients and others

Anticoagulants like Coumadin or Jantoven are prescribed to prevent the formation of blood clots.

Anticoagulants like Coumadin or Jantoven are prescribed to prevent the formation of blood clots.

If you’re taking warfarin, also known as Coumadin® or Jantoven®, your doctor has prescribed this anticoagulation medication to prevent the formation of harmful blood clots or to treat an existing blood clot. Atrial fibrillation (A-fib) is a common condition for taking warfarin because the risk of stroke is higher in A-fib patients.

The American Heart Association reports that more than two million Americans have atrial fibrillation, a rhythmic disorder of the heart where the atria (the heart’s pumping chambers) quiver instead of beat. As a result, some blood remains in the heart instead of being pumped out, allowing pools to collect in the heart chamber, where clots may form. These clots can travel to the brain, causing a stroke.

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