New blood thinners help prevent stroke in those with A-fib


A new group of oral blood thinners, or anti-coagulants, are replacing the use of warfarin (Coumadin) in patients with a specific kind of irregular heart beat. Those with atrial fibrillation, or A-fib, are at an increased risk for strokes from a cardiac embolism, or blood clot. Blood thinning agents are prescribed to prevent these blood clots and reduce a patient’s risk of stroke.

Previously, Coumadin was used to prevent stroke from occurring. Coumadin has been available for many years, but it presents a number of difficulties, including the need for frequent blood tests to adjust the dose, possible drug interactions and numerous food interactions.

Unlike Coumadin, the new oral blood thinners that have become available do not require blood tests to monitor the dose and do not have drug or food interactions. Studies have shown that these new medications are even more effective than Coumadin in preventing strokes. While any blood thinner has the potential to cause bleeding, the newer drugs appear to have a reduced risk of this problem when compared to Coumadin.

Most cardiologists are gradually switching their patients with A-fib over to one of the new agents, with positive results.

If you are currently taking Coumadin or another anti-coagulant and are interested in the new oral blood thinners, schedule an appointment with your cardiologist.

Kevin Clancy, MD, FACC is past chair of cardiology at Community Medical Center in Toms River. Dr. Clancy earned a medical degree from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Rutgers Medical School in New Brunswick, N.J., before completing an internship and residency at Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia. He previously served as fellow in cardiology at Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia, an affiliate of the University of Pennsylvania. A fellow of the American College of Cardiology, Dr. Clancy is board certified in internal medicine with a subspecialty certification in cardiovascular medicine.

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