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Pradaxa is used to help prevent strokes in people who have atrial fibrillation (a condition in which the heart beats irregularly) without heart valve disease. There is a greater risk in patients with atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat) to form undesirable blood clots in the heart that can make their way to the brain, causing a stroke, or to other parts of the body. Pradaxa is believed to have more benefits and fewer complications than previous anticoagulant (“blood thinner”) medications.
Other Approved Anticoagulants
- Coumadin (warfarin, Bristol-Myers Squibb)
- Lovenox (enoxaparin, Sanofi)
- Xarelto (rivaroxiban, Janssen)
- Eliquis (apixaban, Bristol-Myers Squibb)
- Arixtra (fondaparinux, GlaxoSmithKline)
Pradaxa and Direct Thrombin Inhibitors
Pradaxa (dabigatran) is in a class of anticoagulant (”blood thinner”) medications called direct thrombin inhibitors. Thrombin is a protein that plays a central role in the final steps of blood clotting in the body to reduce bleeding.
Pradaxa is the first drug of its type to be approved by the FDA to reduce the risk of stroke as well as other types of serious blood clots called emboli, which can form blockages throughout the body in patients who have atrial fibrillation.
Pradaxa is the first drug of its type to be approved by the FDA to reduce the risk of stroke as well as other types of serious blood clots called emboli, which can form blockages throughout the body in patients who have atrial fibrillation. Pradaxa is the only oral medication in its class available at this time; Acova (argatroban, Pfizer), Angiomax (bivalirudin, Medicines Co), and Iprivask (desirudin, Canyon Pharmaceuticals) are available only as an injection. Other anticoagulants are available that are approved by the FDA and still more are under development.
There are no other available names for dabigatran (more formally, “dabigatran etexilate mesylate”) other than the brand name Pradaxa (manufactured by Boehringer Ingelheim). A generic form of Pradaxa is not available at this time.
Pradaxa is indicated to reduce the risk of stroke and serious blood clots that can form blockages throughout the body in patients who have an abnormal heart beat (atrial fibrillation) without heart valve disease. Pradaxa should not be used if you have any other conditions that cause active bleeding, a history of hypersensitivity or allergic reaction to this medication, or have, or
plan to have, a valve in your heart replaced. Please consult your doctor if you have any concerns before taking this medication.
Blood Thinner Interactions
In some cases, it may become necessary to take more than one medication at a time. Sometimes this poses a concern and care should be taken. Make sure to inform your doctor if you are taking any of the following:
Some of these medicines include:
- Amiodarone (Nexterone)
- Clopidogrel (Plavix)
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral)
The recommended dose for taking Pradaxa is orally twice a day as a 75 mg or 150 mg capsule, with or without food. It is important that this medication is not chewed, opened, or broken before swallowing. Kidney function should be monitored during therapy, depending on your condition, in order to adjust therapy accordingly. Be sure to inform your doctor of previous anticoagulant use. This may affect how you respond to taking Pradaxa. If a dose of Pradaxa is missed, take it as soon as you remember or wait until the next dose if it is within 6 hours. Do not take two doses of Pradaxa at the same time.
Side Effects of Pradaxa
Common side effects include unexpected bleeding or bleeding that lasts a long time, such as:
- unusual bleeding from the gums
- nose bleeds that happen often
- menstrual bleeding or vaginal bleeding that is heavier than normal
- bleeding that is severe or you cannot control
- pink or brown urine
- red or black stools (looks like tar)
- bruises that happen without a known cause or get larger
- coughing up blood or blood clots
- vomiting blood or your vomit looks like “coffee grounds”
- unexpected pain, swelling, or joint pain
- headaches, feeling dizzy or weak