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Anti-clotting drug lowers death rate after heart attack

November 13, 2011|By Shari Roan, Los Angeles Times / For the Booster Shots blog

The anti-clotting drug rivaroxaban helps lower the risk of heart attack, stroke and death in patients who are hospitalized for a heart attack or chest pain, according to a study released Sunday.

Rivaroxaban, or Xarelto, is one of a number of blood-thinner medications, also known as anticoagulants, that have come on the market in recent years as an alternative to warfarin, the traditional medication of choice for preventing blood clots.

The Food and Drug Administration this month approved rivaroxaban for stroke prevention in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. The drug was first approved for the treatment of deep vein thrombosis.

However, the medication is somewhat controversial. The new indication comes with a warning that people should not stop taking it without talking to their doctors and that patients should receive information about the risks, including the risk of experiencing major bleeding.

In the new study, researchers analyzed data from more than 15,000 people hospitalized for a heart attack or angina. The participants received either standard care with rivaroxaban or standard care with a placebo.

Patients on rivaroxaban had a 16% reduced risk of cardiovascular death, stroke or heart attack compared to the patients on placebo. Overall, the risk of all causes of death was 30% lower in the rivaroxaban group.

However, more internal bleeding occurred among those who took rivaroxaban.

The study, known as the ATLAS ACS study, was presented at the American Heart Assn. Scientific Sessions meeting and published online in the New England Journal of Medicine

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