MONDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- The anticoagulant Pradaxa (dabigatran) is associated with a small increase in the risk of heart attack, a new review finds.
Researchers from the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio looked at seven trials involving Pradaxa that included more than 30,000 patients. This process, called a meta-analysis, uses data from published clinical trials to tease out a pattern that might not show up in a single study.
The researchers found Pradaxa was associated with an increased risk of heart attack or acute coronary syndrome (heart attack or angina), compared with two other commonly used blood thinners, warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven) and enoxaparin (Lovenox).
Among those taking Pradaxa, 1.19 percent had a heart attack or suffered from acute coronary syndrome compared with 0.79 percent of those taking either of the other drugs, they noted.
Although there was a 33 percent increase in relative risk for a heart attack among those taking Pradaxa, the absolute increased risk -- that is, the added risk for any one individual of having a heart attack if on Pradaxa -- was 0.27 percent, researchers said.
Pradaxa was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in October 2010 for people with a common heart rhythm problem called atrial fibrillation. People with atrial fibrillation are at a higher risk for stroke and are often prescribed medication to prevent clotting.
Pradaxa is often prescribed as an alternative to warfarin, a medication that has been used for a long time but which can raise the risk of bleeding and is difficult to dose properly.
Pradaxa is also used to prevent blood clots in people who've had joint replacement surgery.
"For persons with atrial fibrillation, dabigatran has a favorable benefit-risk profile, but for other uses the risk of heart attack has to be taken into account," said lead researcher Dr. Ken Uchino, directo
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