Study finds which blood thinner is least likely to cause internal bleeding

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Share on PinterestFor people with atrial fibrillation, doctors can prescribe direct oral anticoagulant drugs to lower the risk of stroke, a typical result of the condition.

• A new observational study finds that one of these drugs, apixaban, is associated with a reduced risk of a common anticoagulant side effect: gastrointestinal bleeding.

• The study looked at four different DOACs and found they were equally effective at averting stroke, making them critically important for people with atrial fibrillation.

Atrial fibrillationTrusted Source (AFib) is a heart arrhythmia in which the beating of the upper and lower chambers of the heart become uncoordinated. When this occurs, the heartbeat may speed up, slow down or become irregular.

The condition is associated with an increased risk of stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggestTrusted Source that it may be the cause of one in seven strokes.

The agency also reports that in 2019 AFib was responsible for 26,535 deaths in the United States and that by 2030, 12.1 million Americans will have the condition.

The front-line recommended treatment for AFib is a blood thinner, one of four direct oral anticoagulantsTrusted Source, or DOACs: apixaban, dabigatran, edoxaban, and rivaroxaban. While all four DOACs are similarly effective, a new observational study finds that one may be safer than the others.

The study, in Annals of Internal Medicine, found that apixaban is less often associated with gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, a frequent side effect of DOACs.

Dr. Gregory Marcus, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, was not involved in the study.

He expressed to Medical News Today enthusiasm for its findings.

“The compelling evidence favoring apixaban in this observational study fits nicely with what had already been intuitively extrapolated from randomized trials of each individual DOAC versus warfarin,” Dr. Marcus told us.

“I already favored apixaban in my practice based on previous data, but it’s nice to know that these comparisons support that practice,” he said.

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