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Researchers find safer way to use common but potentially dangerous medication
Date:2/29/2012

SALT LAKE CITY A team of global scientists, led by researchers at Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City, has developed a safer and more accurate way to administer warfarin, one of the most commonly prescribed but also potentially dangerous medications in the United States.

As part of a worldwide study, the research team developed and tested a new formula that combines individual genetic data with a mathematical model to help physicians more accurately predict patient response to the popular blood-thinning drug.

Researchers found that the formula was safer and more accurate than current methods used to dose for warfarin patients. They're hopeful that the more accurate dosing will eliminate many emergency hospitalizations among warfarin users. Results of the team's study are published in the February edition of the journal, Thrombosis and Haemostasis.

Every year, more than two million Americans begin taking warfarin after joint replacement surgery or who have heart rhythm disorders, stroke risk, deep vein thrombosis, or other common conditions. Because patient response to the drug is so variable, it's difficult for physicians to determine safe, yet effective dosages for each individual.

The consequences can be serious: If patients get too much warfarin, they can develop uncontrolled bleeding; too little and they can suffer a stroke or a blood clot in another location.

"Physicians usually test a patient's blood once or twice in the first week after starting warfarin to see if it's clotting properly," said Benjamin Horne, PhD, director of genetic epidemiology at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute and lead author of the study. "But we've shown that because of genetic variation, patient response to warfarin continues to change after the first week and dosing may need to change, too."

The research group, comprised of physicians and scientists at 13 centers in the United States, Eu
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Contact: Jess C. Gomez
jess.gomez@imail.org
801-507-7455
Intermountain Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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