Vancouver New research has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF), a condition affecting a quarter of a million Canadians which is expected to strike even more in the coming years, as the Canadian population ages.
AF is the most common type of heart arrhythmia and puts those affected at a three to five times greater risk for stroke. Now, there is a new drug poised to battle the condition.
"The majority of patients with atrial fibrillation need an anticoagulant. The current anticoagulant can be a burden for physicians and patients due to its side effects and narrow therapeutic range," Dr. Justin Ezekowitz, from the University of Alberta, told a late breaking clinical trial session at the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress 2011, co-hosted by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada and the Canadian Cardiovascular Congress. It is associated with a risk of bleeding and needs very close monitoring, whereas this new drug is taken twice a day and does not require monitoring. Our trial also shows it is not just equivalent, but better than warfarin for preventing strokes. These are important advantages."
The mainstay of treatment for AF, in which the heart's rhythm becomes very irregular and rapid, has been warfarin, an anticoagulant which has been highly effective in preventing stroke in patients with AF. However, it requires patients to come in to their doctor's office for frequent blood tests, is associated with bleeding, and it also can interact with a variety of foods and drugs that patients might also be taking. Apixaban, a new type of oral anticoagulant known as a factor Xa inhibitor, resulted in fewer strokes (ischemic or hemorrhagic) and fewer systemic embolisms, caused less bleeding and resulted in fewer deaths in patients with atrial fibrillation, said Dr. Ezekowitz.
"We have a drug that can increase reductions in death and stroke and it is safer in terms of bleeding," says Dr. Ezekowi
|Contact: Amanda Bates|
Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada