What Is Dabigatran Used For?
If you have atrial fibrillation, your healthcare provider may prescribe dabigatran to help prevent blood clots and strokes. This medication works by preventing a certain protein in the body from forming blood clots. Healthcare providers may also recommend dabigatran for off-label uses, which include the treatment or prevention of blood clots in people who have cancer or who are about to have surgery.
An Overview of Uses for Dabigatran
Dabigatran etexilate mesylate (Pradaxa®) is a prescription anticoagulant medication approved to prevent strokes and "systemic embolism" (blood clots) in people with atrial fibrillation.
Atrial fibrillation is a type of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that occurs when the electrical system that controls the heartbeat is no longer working properly. It occurs in the atria of the heart (the upper chambers).
Symptoms of atrial fibrillation may include an irregular heart rhythm, a rapid heart rate, heart palpitations (the sensation that your heart is racing or pounding), or feeling like your heart is fluttering (see Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation). With atrial fibrillation, both the heart rhythm and rate are abnormal.
These arrhythmias may cause certain complications, such as:
- Pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung)
- Systemic embolism (a blood clot anywhere else)
- A stroke
- Congestive heart failure (CHF).
The goals of treatment for atrial fibrillation usually include one or more of the following:
- Returning the heartbeat to a normal sinus rhythm, if possible
- Controlling the heart rate if normal sinus rhythm cannot be achieved safely
- Preventing blood clots from forming by prescribing an anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medication, such as dabigatran
- Treating the underlying causes of the abnormal rhythm and any atrial fibrillation complications
- Reducing the risk factors that may lead to a worsening of the condition.