We’ve spoken at length about NOACs, but there are still so many different ones that your doctor can prescribe to you. So educating yourself on the different ones are of paramount importance. Therefore we are going to take a look at two of these medications, namely Pradaxa and Eliquis.
Pradaxa is known by another name – Dabigatran. As it is known, this medication is used to prevent stroke and blood clots in the legs and lungs. This medication is also often used after hip replacement surgery, as it is a very effective anticoagulant.
The way that an anticoagulant works is by blocking a protein called thrombin in your blood. But, as with all NOACs, Pradaxa (or Dabigatran) cannot be used following an artificial heart valve replacement. Your doctor will know which medication will work better for you following heart valve surgery.
Using Pradaxa is quite straightforward, but does come with a few warnings and, as with all medication, instructions of use. Again, as with all medication, your Pradaxa will come with a patient information leaflet. If one is not provided in the box, ask your pharmacist for a leaflet. It is always good practice to familiarise yourself with the medication that you are taking. This helps you to identify any possible side effects that you may experience, and when it becomes necessary to go to the doctor, or in more severe cases, to the emergency room.
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Consumption of Pradaxa
Taking the medication is easy. You swallow the capsule whole with a glass of water, either with or without food. It is noted that you should not crush, chew, or break open the capsule. If you do this, it releases all of the drug at once, which increases the risk of side effects.
One very annoying thing about Pradaxa is that you cannot sort it into a pill box of any sort. This means that you need to carry the whole bottle around with you as the medication needs to be protected from moisture. For people who struggle to remember to take their medication and uses a medication reminder box, this becomes tiresome, and may often lead to them forgetting to take their Pradaxa.
Cause and effect
This, of course, leads to other problems such as the heightened risk of blood clots forming, simply because you forgot to take your pill. Another problem with this is that you might forget that you already took your pill, and then take another one. As it is very important to take this medication exactly as directed, taking more than the prescribed amount puts you at a greater risk of bleeding, may affect kidney function, and interactions with other medication that you may be taking. Let’s face it, we’ve all forgotten to take a pill once or twice in our life. Probably more than we would like to admit.
Side effects of Pradaxa
This brings us to the common side effects of Pradaxa. The side effects range from severe expression to infrequent. Under severe expression, we have bleeding, stomach or intestinal ulcers, gastritis, and severe bruising. Under less severe expression, we have gastroesophageal reflux disease, diarrhoea, abdominal bloating, and upper abdominal pain.
Finally we have the infrequent side effect, which is a hypersensitivity reaction to the drug, which requires immediate medical attention. Signs of severe expression of infrequent side effects include, but are not limited to decreased blood platelets, bleeding in the eyes, abnormal bleeding in the brain and within the skull, extreme inflammation of the oesophagus, hives, anaphylaxis, bleeding around the spine, and bleeding in the abdomen.
But there are also other infrequent side effects which may be uncomfortable, but not life-threatening. These include slight inflammation of the oesophagus, indigestion, abnormally long or heavy periods, itching, hair loss, and nausea. But don’t be alarmed! Every single medication out there have hair-raising side effects, but these normally only affect a very small percentage of people.
This is also why there are certain people who cannot take Pradaxa. These include people who has had an operation on the spine or heart valve, mothers who are breastfeeding, and people suffering from chronic kidney disease. But your doctor will sit with you and discuss if Pradaxa is the best medication for you, or whether you should rather go with another medication.
Eliquis, also known commonly as Apixaban, differs from Pradaxa in certain areas. Off the bat immediately is the way Eliquis should be taken. This medication is taken with or without food, usually twice a day or as prescribed by your doctor.
But here is the big difference – if you cannot swallow the tablet whole, you may crush the tablet and mix it with water or something edible such as applesauce, so that you may ingest it. The medication dosage is based on many things such as your medical condition, your age and weight, your kidney function, prior surgeries, and current medical conditions that may exclude you from taking the medication.
If Eliquis is prescribed to you, you have to remember to take it regularly and at the same time each day. Eliquis may also be prescribed for a set time as a form of treatment after a surgery to prevent blood clots from forming, and the length of the treatment will be based on the type of surgery that you had undergone.
Another important factor to remember when you are talking to your doctor about Eliquis is that honesty is key. You have to tell them about your entire medical history, no matter how embarrassing it might seem to you. Another important point of honesty is telling the doctor about all of the medication you are currently taking. This includes prescription medication, non-prescription medication, supplements, and herbal products. All of these may have an effect on how the medication may affect you, and whether some of the side effects may turn up because of this.
Speaking of side effects, all medications have them. As with Pradaxa, Eliquis also has side effects. Some of the minor side effects experienced is nausea, easy bruising, and nosebleeds. If any of these becomes worse, then it is probably a good time to go and see your doctor. More serious side effects may include severe bruising, prolonged bleeding from minor cuts, unusually heavy menstrual flow, persistent tiredness and weakness. You may also experience a rash, itching, swelling, severe dizziness, and trouble breathing.
Something to mention about both Pradaxa and Eliquis, is that you need to mention this to any doctor before going for a procedure. This includes the dentist. Since both of these medications are blood thinning medications, the risk of severe bleeding is a very real danger. Along with mentioning whether you are taking Pradaxa, Eliquis, or any other blood thinning medication, you also need to mention any other medications and alternative medications such as herbal supplements. To you it might just be an iron supplement or pure fish oil Omega 3 capsules, but in the bigger picture this all determines how your blood and organs will respond to medications as well as to surgery. What may seem insignificant to you, might be what saves or takes your life. Always be 100% honest with your doctor.
Blood thinner and alcohol
Sometimes it is necessary for a pregnant woman to be on a blood thinning medication, and this should be closely monitored. Another thing that is of utmost importance is the consumption of alcohol and the dangers it holds. Since the medication may cause stomach bleeding, the use of alcohol greatly increases this risk. Speaking to your doctor is pertinent when thinking about the consumption of alcohol, because you can still enjoy that cocktail or beer, if you do so responsibly. Other precautions also needs to be taken into consideration, such as avoiding contact sport, using a soft toothbrush for brushing your teeth, to rather opt for an electric razor to avoid the possibility of a cut or nick, and to take great care with sharp objects such as nail clippers, knives whilst preparing food, et cetera. One of the greatest risks is falling, as this may cause an internal bleed which needs to be checked out by your doctor immediately. Especially a blow to the head can be severe, so avoid those bar fights!
Pradaxa vs Eliquis
It is clear that both medications have their own side effects, but both can be lifesaving as well. But what is the actual difference between the two? While both block the action of substances in your bloodstream called clotting factors, the way they do that differs. Eliquis blocks the action of factor Xa, while Pradaxa blocks the clotting factor called thrombin.
Both actions prevent blood clots from forming in your blood vessels, which is the ultimate goal. The differences between Eliquis and Pradaxa are far less than the similarities. Some differences we’ve already discussed, but other differences includes that if you have liver problems, Pradaxa might be the better of the two.
If you have kidney problems though, then both medications will need to be closely monitored and the doses adjusted. Although the side effects of Pradaxa and Eliquis are very similar, people taking Pradaxa have commented on having more issues with stomach side effects than those who were taking Eliquis.
The cost for Pradaxa and Eliquis are also quite similar. In conclusion it comes down to what your doctor feels will work best for you under your circumstances and with your medical background, as well as your lifestyle and current body situation. It is always best to do your own research as well, and hopefully this article will help you to make an informed decision when speaking to your doctor.
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