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What Is Dabigatran Used For?

Using Dabigatran for Treating Blood Clots

Dabigatran is approved to treat blood clots deep in the veins of the body, known medically as deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and of the lungs, known as pulmonary embolism (PE). DVT clots typically occur in the legs or hips. They can be especially dangerous if the clot dislodges and travels to the lungs, where it may cause a pulmonary embolism.
Dabigatran is approved to treat DVT or PE blood clots in people who have been treated with an injectable anticoagulant for five to ten days. In addition to treating these clots, it can also help prevent future clots. 

How Does Dabigatran Compare to Warfarin?

Dabigatran has several potential advantages over warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®), the drug most commonly used in the past for anticoagulation in people with atrial fibrillation. Some of these advantages include the following:
  • Dabigatran dosing is simple and straightforward, with no need for frequent monitoring; warfarin can be very tricky to dose properly, and frequent monitoring and dosage adjustments are often necessary.
  • Dabigatran interacts with only a few drugs and no foods; warfarin interacts with many foods and drugs.
  • Dabigatran begins working rapidly; warfarin takes several days to start working.
  • Studies have also shown that dabigatran is more effective at preventing strokes and blood clots than warfarin.
Studies do show that warfarin works better and is safer than dabigatran in one particular group of people (those with mechanical prosthetic heart valves). In fact, dabigatran should not be used in people with mechanical prosthetic heart valves for this particular reason. Also, when treating blood clots that have already occurred, studies suggest that dabigatran works about as well as warfarin. 
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