Yana Svetlichnaya, M.D. reports:
A new blood thinner offers simpler and safer treatment for pulmonary embolism, a deadly condition in which a lung blood vessel becomes blocked by a blood clot.
Venous blood clots have long been treated with warfarin, a drug fraught with food and drug interactions. On top of keeping a strict diet, patients must comply with frequent blood tests and complex dosing schedules.
But a new study suggests the drug rivaroxaban performs as well as warfarin in treating existing blood clots in the lung with less monitoring and fewer side effects.
"You don't have to go to the lab to monitor. It's a fixed dose. It is as effective, and it looks safer," said study author Dr. Harry Bueller, professor of vascular medicine at the American Medical Center in Amsterdam.
Patients treated with rivaroxaban had similar rates of clot recurrence as patients treated with warfarin. But they had a lower rate of bleeding, with nearly half as many major bleeds as patients taking warfarin, according to the trial results presented at the American College of Cardiology meeting in Chicago.
Bueller said rivaroxaban may soon replace warfarin in treating venous blood clots because it's easier to manage and appears to be safer.
"In those patients where we use warfarin today, we will gradually see replacement by these new anti-coagulants," he said.
Dr. Svetlichnaya is an internal medicine resident at Northwestern University's McGaw Medical Center.