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Experimental Drug Might Beat Aspirin in Preventing Repeat Strokes: Study
Date:2/1/2012

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 1 (HealthDay News) -- An investigational drug called apixaban (Eliquis) appears to be better than aspirin at preventing blood clots in certain patients who have already suffered a stroke or so-called "mini-stroke" due to an abnormal heart rhythm, according to the results of a new study.

For patients with the dangerous irregular heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation who can't tolerate the standard drug treatment, daily apixaban seems to be more effective at warding off a stroke or blood clot than aspirin, the study found.

The study was funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer, which are developing apixaban. The findings were slated for presentation Wednesday at the American Stroke Association's annual conference in New Orleans.

For the study, a team of researchers from Canada and Germany, led by Dr. Hans-Christoph Diener of the University Hospital Essen, tracked nearly 5,600 atrial fibrillation patients (average age 70 years) for about one year.

All of the patients were deemed unsuitable for standard treatment with the anticoagulant known as warfarin (Coumadin), the researchers pointed out in a news release from the American Stroke Association.

Study participants were randomly divided into two groups: one group received two daily doses of 5 milligrams of apixaban (part of a new class of anti-clotting drugs known as Factor Xa inhibitors); the other group received between 81 and 324 milligrams of aspirin daily (81 milligrams is a typical "low-dose" aspirin).

The result: among those taking apixaban who had a prior history of stroke or mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack), only 2.4 percent went on to experience a subsequent stroke or systemic embolism (blood clot) during treatment. By contrast, that figure rose to more than 9 percent among similar patients receiving daily aspirin.

Patients on apixaban had no greater risk of major bleeding than those on aspirin, the team added
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