Determining which drug works better for which patients
"Our findings definitely point toward important age-related risk that merits consideration when doctors are making treatment recommendations," says lead author Neena Abraham, M.D.
To the average TV viewer, it may seem like new drugs flood the marketplace daily. However, from the 1950s until just recently, warfarin was the only available anticoagulant drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prevent blood clotting. One of the most common reasons people take an anticoagulant is to reduce stroke and heart attack risk related to atrial fibrillation, an irregular and often rapid heart rate that commonly causes poor blood flow. The condition affects 3 million Americans.Warfarin is so powerful and long-acting, though, that it may reduce beneficial clotting. Users must have regular blood tests to ensure they don't experience excessive bleeding, especially in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, where it can be life-threatening.
Three new oral anticoagulants received FDA approval in just the past few years, and two of them — dabigatran (Pradaxa) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto) — do not require regular trips to the doctor's office for blood monitoring. That convenience factor has caused a huge upswing in prescriptions, even though the newer medications can be more expensive than warfarin.
Although cost and convenience are important considerations, researchers at the Mayo Clinic Robert D. and Patricia E. Kern Center for the Science of Health Care Delivery wondered if physicians had the medical evidence they needed to prescribe the best anticoagulant on an individual basis.
Read more about their research and learn what providers may want to discuss with their patients when deciding the best treatment for the individual.