|Type of medicine||Anticoagulant|
|Used for||To prevent formation of harmful blood clots for people with a certain type of atrial fibrillation (irregular fast heartbeat). It is usually prescribed when there are likely to be additional benefits of taking dabigatran - reducing the likelihood of damage resulting from these clots, eg in patients who have had a stroke, or have high blood pressure or some forms of heart disease. Dabigatran may also be used for patients having hip or knee surgery.|
Dabigatran works by preventing the blood from clotting as quickly or as effectively as normal. It interferes with chemicals needed to make clots or clotting factors. This means that it can be used to prevent blood clots from forming in veins and arteries - for example, clots in your legs, lungs, brain or heart.
Warfarin is the most commonly used anticoagulant in the UK, and has been used for many years. However, people who take warfarin need to have regular blood tests to measure how quickly their blood clots. This often means that the dose of warfarin can change quite frequently. Dabigatran is a new type of anticoagulant and works in a slightly different way to warfarin. People who take dabigatran do not need to have regular blood tests. However, they still need to have occasional blood tests to make sure their kidneys are working well. In addition, for most people the dose of dabigatran remains the same throughout treatment.
Before taking dabigatran
Before taking dabigatran make sure your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant, trying for a baby or breast-feeding.
- If your kidneys do not work well.
- If you are currently bleeding.
- If you have problems with your liver.
- If you have any medical problems that may increase your risk of bleeding.
- If you are taking antifungal medicines called ketoconazole or itraconazole.
- If you have had an organ transplant and are taking ciclosporin or tacrolimus to prevent rejection.
- If you are taking other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal or complementary medicines.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to this or to any other medicine.
How to take dabigatran
- Before beginning treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet.
- Take your medication exactly as directed by your doctor. The usual dose is one capsule twice a day. Your dose will also be on the label of your pack.
- Try to take dabigatran at the same time each day to avoid missing any doses.
- If you forget to take a dose, you can still take it up to six hours before you are due to take your next dose. If it is less than six hours before you need to take your next dose of dabigatran, do not take your missed dose. Miss this dose out and take your next dose of dabigatran as normal. Do not take two doses at the same time to make up for the missed dose. If in doubt, speak to your pharmacist or doctor.
- Do not take more doses than your doctor has recommended. If you take more dabigatran than recommended, contact your doctor immediately - you may be at risk of bleeding. If you do have bleeding, you may need treatment with a blood transfusion or surgery.
Getting the most from your treatment
- If you are having any treatment like an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
- Keep your regular doctor's appointment so your progress can be monitored.
- Do not stop taking this medicine without speaking to your doctor first.
- If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to take with your other medicines.
Can dabigatran cause problems?
Along with their useful effects all medicines can cause unwanted side-effects, which usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine. Speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Common side-effects - these affect less than 1 in 10 people who take this medicine||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Nosebleed||Contact your doctor as soon as possible|
|Bleeding from the penis/vagina or urinary tract||Contact your doctor as soon as possible|
|Bleeding from the stomach or bowel (stools may be bright red or black)||Contact your doctor as soon as possible|
|Feeling sick, belly ache or stomach ache, indigestion||See your doctor if this persists|
|Frequent loose or liquid bowel movements||See your doctor if this persists|
|Unusual laboratory test results on liver function||Your doctor will measure this and advise you what to do|
Important: if you experience bleeding, speak with your doctor immediately or go to your local accident and emergency department without delay.
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this medicine, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store dabigatran
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
Important information about all medicines
Further reading & references
- Atrial fibrillation - dabigatran etexilate; NICE Technology Appraisal, March 2012
- British National Formulary; 62nd Edition (Sep 2011) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
- Manufacturer's PIL, Pradaxa® 150 mg hard capsules; Manufacturer's PIL, Pradaxa® 150 mg hard capsules, Boehringer Ingleheim, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated February 2012.
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Mrs Jenny Whitehall
Prof Cathy Jackson