Internal bleeding risks associated with Pradaxa
More than 2 million Americans use blood thinners on a regular basis to decrease the risk of heart attack and stroke. Pradaxa and all blood thinners are associated with internal bleeding risks that can be life-threatening.
Patients can prepare for their next doctor’s appointment by understanding the connection between Pradaxa and internal bleeding, learning to recognize symptoms of internal bleeding and identifying factors that can contribute to bleeding risk.
Pradaxa was responsible for 542 deaths in 2011, many of which were caused by internal bleeding. The same mechanism that makes the drug successful – stopping blood from clotting–also makes the drug dangerous.
Since blood thinners stop the body from completing its job of naturally slowing bleeding with clots, even minor injuries and small cuts can turn into serious bleeding events. However, Pradaxa is especially dangerous, because once bleeding starts, little can be done to stop it.
Patients taking the most common blood thinner, warfarin, have an antidote available if they experience bleeding. Unfortunately, with Pradaxa there is no antidote available.
For some Pradaxa users who are hospitalized in relation to a bleeding accident, doctors are forced to wait until the kidneys process the remaining Pradaxa in the body. This waiting period can delay necessary procedures, like surgery, and lead to further complications.
Bleeding is the primary cause of Pradaxa injuries, accounting for more than 2,300 adverse events in 2011; the reports were gathered by QuarterWatch, a nonprofit publication for the Institute of Safe Medication.
Symptoms of & Risk Factors for Internal Bleeding
Internal bleeding is a fairly common event. For example, a bruise is one form of internal bleeding injury. A bruise forms when the body experiences trauma.
Internal bleeding can also be the result of damage to an artery. Because the bleeding site is not exposed, these injuries often go unnoticed and worsen before a patient seeks treatment. Recognizing symptoms of internal bleeding can alert people taking blood thinners to seek medical care, before minor accidents become major emergencies.
Symptoms of internal bleeding:
- Abdominal pain or swelling
- Lightheadedness or fainting
- Loss of consciousness
- A large area of deeply purple skin
- Headache or dizziness
It is important that patients not only know the symptoms of internal bleeding, but also the other factors that can make bleeding events more severe.
Risk factors that increase danger of bleeding:
- Poor kidney function
- History of stomach or intestinal bleeding
- Stomach ulcer
- Low body weight
- Older than 75
Taking blood thinners is a proven safeguard against strokes, providing benefits to many. However, the same medication that saves your life should not also severely damage your health. Take the time to ask your doctor questions and carefully consider the benefits and risks of a new blood thinner before filling your next prescription.
Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for Drugwatch.com, specializing in news about prescription drugs, medical devices and consumer safety. This is a special guest contribution article to the eParis Extra!