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An Alternative to Warfarin

A new study shows a new drug alternative to warfarin in reducing stroke among people with an irregular and rapid heartbeat. The research shows the drug ximelagatran appears to be as effective as warfarin.//

Warfarin has been used for decades for people at high risk of stroke because of its blood thinning capability. However, some of the drawbacks of warfarin include an increased risk of bleeding and a possible interaction with food and other medications. Another downside is patients must have monthly blood testing and frequent dose changes when they are on warfarin. An international research study led by investigators in Sweden compared the outcomes of patients on warfarin and ximelagatran.

The study included 3,407 patients from Europe, Asia and Australia who suffered from atrial fibrillation, which is an irregular and rapid beating heart, and one or more stroke risk factors. The patients were randomly assigned to receive warfarin or ximelagatran. The patients were followed for 17 months.

Researchers report ximelagatran was at least as effective in reducing the frequency of stroke or blood clots as warfarin. The study also found the rate of stroke, death and major bleeding were similar between both groups. Researchers say these findings show ximelagatran is as effective as warfarin for patients at high risk for stroke.

In an accompanying commentary, researchers from the Netherlands says while ximelagatran may be used for patients with atrial fibrillation, more research is needed to confirm its safety. They say another study looking at the drug clopidogrel may provide yet another alternative to warfarin.

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