Pradaxa, known commonly as dabigatran, is an anticoagulant that is taken orally. It comes from a group of drugs known as direct thrombin inhibitors and was developed by the pharmaceutical company known as Boehringer Ingelheim. It is often used in place of the drug warfarin as it does not require as much monitoring through the use of numerous blood tests. Its major disadvantage compared to warfarin is its inability to be reversed in cases of excessive bleeding. Due to its action as an anticoagulant, or blood thinner, Pradaxa is most often used to prevent strokes in patients with heart disease or other condition making them more prone to strokes. It is also used often in cases of surgery to prevent blood clots from forming.
How Pradaxa works
Dabigatran works by inhibiting the thrombin receptor. The thrombin receptor is critical to controlling blood viscosity. With dabigatran inhibiting the thrombin receptor, it causes blood to become much thinner. It is this thinning effect that makes Pradaxa such an effective anti-stroke medication. Pradaxa has a half-life of 12-14 hours. It has the biggest blood thinning effects a couple of hours after ingestion, however. Because of Pradaxa's long half-life, it is important not to open the capsule for ingestion as this will increase the rate of absorption. With the half-life being such a significant amount of time, an overdose of dabigatran would be an especially bumpy ride.
Pradaxa and surgery
In addition to being given to those who are categorized as high risk for stroke, Pradaxa is also prescribed post surgery to some patients. It is usually prescribed to those who have had a knee or hip replacement. The reason for this is it is common for those who have just had a knee or a hip replaced to have clotting in one of their leg veins. This is due to the trauma induced in that region coupled with the decreased movement after undergoing a major surgery. Blood clots can be painful as well as deadly. Fortunately, Pradaxa has been found to be extremely helpful in limiting the percentage of blood clots that form after a knee or hip replacement surgery.
If you are already taking Pradaxa, it is important that you inform any doctor or dentist before going in to have a procedure done. The reason for this is that dabigatran is an anticoagulant, so it can be extremely dangerous to have surgery done as it may result in excessive bleeding. Most of the time doctors will have their patients stop taking Pradaxa prior to a surgery and may switch them onto a milder anticoagulant that will not interfere with the procedure.
Pradaxa and bleeding
Because Pradaxa is an anticoagulant, it is important to be extra careful if it’s prescribed to you. With thinner blood, it is harder for the body to heal from cuts and other such wounds. Pradaxa is also not as reversible as other anticoagulants, such as warfarin. For this reason, extreme caution and care should be used by those prescribed Pradaxa to limit the amount of potential accidents and thereby excessive bleeding.