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
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.