If you're among the 2.7 million Americans that have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation, you have a higher risk of suffering a stroke. That risk can be greatly reduced by 50 to 60 percent, however, through the use of blood thinners or anticoagulants, such as warfarin, Eliquis, Pradaxa, Savaysa and Xarelto. Unfortunately, less than half of the people diagnosed with afib who could benefit from are prescribed blood thinner medications or don't take them. This is likely due to the fact that blood thinners are a preventative medication and do not treat the symptoms of afib, so many patients do not see the benefit. A greatly reduced risk of stroke, however, is an important part of atrial fibrillation treatment, and should be taken as prescribed, even when you don't feel the benefits of the medication. If you have atrial fibrillation and your doctor has talked to you about taking blood thinner or anticoagulant medication, see the top questions and answers below to learn more about why blood thinners can be an important part of your treatment plan.
Why do blood thinners and anticoagulants reduce the risk of stroke in people with afib?
People who have afib are at a higher risk of stroke because the rapid heartbeat associated with atrial fibrillation allows for blood to pool up in the heart, which can cause clots to form and travel to the brain and other areas of the body.
What are the different types of blood thinners?
There are two primary types of blood thinners - anticoagulants (such as warfarin or heparin), which slow down the process the body uses to form clots, and anti platelet drugs, such as aspirin, which prevent blood cells from clumping together and clotting.
Are Eliquis and Savaysa considered safer than warfarin?
No matter which blood thinner you take, there will be risks of excessive bleeding involved. However, newer medications, such as Eliquis and Savaysa, wear off faster than warfarin, decreasing the risk of serious bleeding during a fall or injury. Your doctor can help you decide which blood thinner is safest for you.
Does everyone with atrial fibrillation need to take a blood thinner?
Many specialists agree that if atrial fibrillation episodes are brief or rarely occur, your risk of stroke is low and a blood thinner may not be needed, though many doctors prefer to prescribe them regardless, just in case. Your doctor can help you decide if blood thinners are needed to help lower your risk of stroke due to afib.
What is the difference between Praxada and warfarin?
Both warfarin and Praxada are blood thinners, with warfarin (Coumadin) being an older medication that has stood the test of time, and has inexpensive generic forms available. As more research is done on blood thinners, however, other medications, such as Praxada, have hit the shelves of pharmacies. The biggest differences that patients will notice between the two is that Praxada and other brand-name blood thinners do not have generic equivalents available, and also do not require frequent blood tests like Coumadin (warfarin) does, resulting in more ease of use for patients.
Why is Praxada sometimes considered safer than Xarelto?
All blood thinners come with a risk of severe bleeding, even due to minor falls or accidents. There is a new drug, however, called Praxbind that can be used to prevent patients using Praxada from bleeding to death after a fall or injury. No such drug exists for patients who take Xarelto.
How can I save the most money on blood thinners for afib?
If saving money is your primary objective, then warfarin (Coumadin) will be your best bet, since there are inexpensive generic equivalents readily available and most insurances cover the cost of warfarin.
Can I stay active while taking a blood thinner?
Depending on the type of blood thinner you take, your doctor may suggest that you limit physical activity in order to reduce the chance of falls or injury that may lead to severe bleeding, which can be fatal. Talk to your doctor about whether or not you should refrain from any physical activities while taking blood thinners.