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New Drug, Pradaxa, May Prevent Second Stroke in Certain Heart Patients
Date:11/8/2010

MONDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Among certain patients with a history of stroke or mini-stroke, a new anticlotting medication called Pradaxa (dabigatran) appears to be as effective as the anticoagulant drug warfarin at preventing a second stroke, new German research reveals.

Specifically, the new study suggests that Pradaxa can reduce the risk of a second stroke as effectively as warfarin among those facing an elevated risk for stroke or arterial blood clot (systemic embolism) as a result of having atrial fibrillation, the most common form of abnormal heart rhythm (or cardiac arrhythmia).

What's more, depending on the dosage used, Pradaxa appeared to fare at least as well or better than warfarin in terms of limiting the risk for bleeding -- a known warfarin side effect.

Pradaxa was recently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration -- at a dosage of 150 milligrams -- for the prevention of first stroke among atrial fibrillation patients.

The current effort took a look at the drug in two twice-daily dosages of either 110 mg or 150 mg among more than 3,600 atrial fibrillation patients, all of whom had previously experienced a stroke or a mini-stroke, also known as a transient ischemic attack.

All of the patients had participated in the larger Randomized Evaluation of Long-Term Anticoagulation Therapy study, which had included more than 18,000 people, 80 percent of whom had no prior history of stroke.

Last year, results of a prior analysis concerning this full study group indicated that at the lower dosage, Pradaxa was as effective at reducing stroke risk as warfarin, while the higher dosage provided even better stroke protection than warfarin.

The new study, published in the Nov. 8 online edition of The Lancet Neurology, was led by Dr. Hans-Christoph Diener from the department of neurology at University Hospital Essen in Essen, Germany.

Diener and his associates focused solely
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