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Blood Thinner Xarelto Shows Promise for Heart Patients
Date:11/13/2011

By Denise Mann
HealthDay Reporter

SUNDAY, Nov. 13 (HealthDay News) -- When added to standard treatment, a new blood-thinning drug called Xarelto (rivaroxaban) may help people with "acute coronary syndrome" lower their risk of death, subsequent heart attack or stroke, a new study finds.

Acute coronary syndrome is an umbrella term that includes people with angina or prior history of heart attack.

The finding "opens up a new area for treating this very common condition," said study co-author Dr. Eugene Braunwald, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a cardiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

The study could help Xarelto expand the ranks of common blood thinners, which for decades were dominated by old standbys such as warfarin (Coumadin) or, more recently, Plavix (clopidogrel). Xarelto is currently approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration to treat an abnormal heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation and to prevent the formation of blood clots after hip and knee replacement surgery.

The new study, funded by the drug's makers, Johnson & Johnson and Bayer Healthcare, is being published Nov. 13 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with its presentation at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in Orlando, Fla.

The new trial included more than 15,500 people who had been hospitalized for acute coronary syndrome. Participants received either a low dose (5 milligrams) or a very low dose (2.5 mg) of the new blood thinner or a placebo, in addition to standard care. The medications were given twice daily for an average of 13 months.

People who received either dosage of Xarelto had a lower risk of heart attack, stroke or death when compared to their counterparts given a placebo. Specifically, there was a 16 percent decrease among patients in the 2.5-mg group and a 15 percent decrease in the 5-mg group, the researchers report
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