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.