Defective Drug May Be Causing Heart Attacks, Study Says

A leading anti-clotting drug called Pradaxa has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack. The drug may be dangerous for patients facing a risk of heart attack or heart disease. In a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the patients using Pradaxa were one third more likely to suffer a heart attack or acute coronary syndrome than those on another medication or a placebo. This is just the latest issue in a spotty safety record for the drug

Blood thinners are used to prevent potentially deadly blood clots and generally prescribed for stroke prevention. Pradaxa is marketed as a stroke prevention medication that requires less blood monitoring than other blood thinners, including warfarin. If the study is correct and Pradaxa increases the risk of heart attacks, doctors will now have to weigh that information in deciding which drug to prescribe.

The study included multiple clinical trials that encompassed more than 30,000 total patients. The results add to earlier concerns that Pradaxa causes excessive bleeding and may harm kidney function. The authors of the study were quick to point out that the incidence of heart attack were not so great as to require the removal of Pradaxa from the market. Depending on the patient’s situation, including his or her risk of heart problems, Pradaxa may be the right option. That said, doctors should be careful in recommending this drug for conditions which could be successfully treated with other blood thinners.

Patients who suffer heart attacks or acute coronary syndrome while on Pradaxa must ask themselves if they could have given a safer medication. In light of the latest information about the drug, doctors must caution patients as to the potential effects.

Source: CBS News, “Study: Higher heart attack risk from pradaxa,” by Daniel J. DeNoon, 11 January 2012