WEDNESDAY, Feb. 20 (HealthDay News) -- People who need to take a blood thinner because they've had a clot in the deep veins of their legs appear to do better with the new drug Pradaxa (dibigatran) than with the older drug warfarin, researchers report.
Long-term treatment of these blood clots is safer and more convenient with Pradaxa than warfarin, the new study found.
Extended treatment with blood thinners after clots develop in the veins or the lungs should be considered more often than it is, said lead researcher Dr. Sam Schulman, a professor in the division of hematology and thromboembolism at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.
If a clot in the leg breaks loose and travels to the heart, brain or lungs, it can cause a heart attack, stroke or a pulmonary embolism -- all of which can be fatal.
People taking warfarin need periodic blood tests to be sure they aren't getting too much of the drug, which raises the risk of major bleeding, or too little, which is ineffective.
Pradaxa also has a lower risk of bleeding than warfarin, Schulman said, and the bleeding that does occur is less serious than that seen with warfarin, he added.
For the study, published Feb. 21 in the New England Journal of Medicine, Schulman's team conducted two studies of more than 2,800 patients, average age 56, who had clots in the legs, also known as venous thromboembolism. In one, Pradaxa was compared with warfarin, and in the other Pradaxa was compared with placebo.
In the Pradaxa-warfarin comparison, the researchers found that 1.8 percent of patients taking Pradaxa had recurrent clots, compared with 1.3 percent of patients taking warfarin. Fewer patients taking Pradaxa, however, had major bleeding (13) compared with those taking warfarin (25).
In the study comparing Pradaxa with a placebo, three patients taking the drug developed clots, compared wit
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