Anticoagulation medications require monitoring and lifestyle adjustments, but they can be effectively and safely managed, says Elizabeth Renner, clinical pharmacist at the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Medicine department. “As soon as you start taking a medication that affects clotting, you need to be on the lookout for potential side effects,” Renner says. When taking warfarin, also known as Coumadin® or Jantoven®, “some patients develop side effects early in the course of treatment and some later.” Others, she says, don’t experience any side effects at all.
Be aware of minor warfarin side effects
A patient may experience minor symptoms as a result of anticoagulation medications. If you do experience any of these, says Renner, you may need to have your INR (international normalized ratio) checked to make sure there are no underlying problems. Minor symptoms include:
New anticoagulant medications for patients with afib can be effective alternatives to warfarin (Coumadin and Jantoven).
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. Because of the risk of stroke and systemic embolism associated with atrial fibrillation, patients are often prescribed anticoagulation medication to prevent these secondary adverse outcomes. The most common medication is warfarin, also known as Coumadin® or Jantoven®.
Three new medications approved for afib patients
However, three new anticoagulants have recently been approved by the Food and Drug Administration: dabigatran (Pradaxa®), rivaroxaban (Xarelto®) and apixaban (Eliquis®). This means that warfarin, Jantoven® and Coumadin® alternatives are now available for patients diagnosed with atrial fibrillation who need an anticoagulant. While these new medications do not require routine lab monitoring as warfarin does, patients may pay higher medication copays, depending on insurance coverage, says Brian Kurtz, clinical pharmacist, University of Michigan Cardiovascular Medicine.
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