The idea that a diagnosis of a-fib demands an Rx for an anticoagulant is one we’ve been hearing from doctors for decades.
And the FDA has played along, approving one risky drug after another for that condition. The agency even goes so far as to claim that blood thinners such as Pradaxa and Eliquis, which are advertised non-stop on television, will reduce your risk of a stroke by 50 or even 60 percent!
You can’t argue with that, right?
Well, actually, you can! Because several studies, including a brand-new one out of the U.K., are poking some very big holes in that theory.
The most current research, by doctors from the University College London, found that if you suffer from two very common conditions – a-fib and chronic kidney disease — those blood-thinning drugs can put you at a greater risk of suffering a stroke – exactly what they’re supposed to prevent!
But even if your kidneys are in perfect shape, it’s been known for years now that not everyone with a-fib needs to be on a risky blood-thinning med in the first place.
An unnecessary risk
Anyone with an abnormal heart rhythm, called a-fib, will probably get a “stroke talk” from their doctor and be told how the condition can cause blood to pool in the heart, potentially causing a clot to form.
But what this latest study found is that for people who suffer from chronic kidney disease and a-fib, those blood-thinning meds could actually be tipping the scales in the wrong direction.
The researchers followed thousands of patients over 65 who suffered from both a-fib and kidney disease. Half took a blood-thinning drug, and the other half didn’t. And after nearly a year and a half, the researchers found that the patients on the anticoagulants were close to three times more likely to have suffered a stroke.
That was enough to prompt the lead author of that study, professor of clinical cardiology Dr. John Camm, to call for more research to be done immediately.
But that’s not all you need to know.
Because two other important studies have already challenged the concept of using blood thinners to prevent stroke in a-fib patients.
One of them, done two years ago, concluded that anticoagulants aren’t needed for those with “short bouts” of the condition.
OK, but what about patients whose a-fib is more frequent?
That question was answered by a study from the University of Californiathat looked at 11,000 people with the condition and found that around 25 percent were actually at low risk for a stroke… and they didn’t need to take any meds at all to thin their blood!
I bet most people suffering from a-fib never hear about those findings during that “stroke talk” they’re forced to sit through.
At the time, the lead author of the UCSF study said that the fact that so many a-fib patients without any risk factors for stroke were still being prescribed these dangerous meds should be a “wake-up call” for doctors everywhere.
But three years later, most doctors are still snoozing!
Look, no matter what you’ve been told, these meds are extremely dangerous and can put you at a big risk of a deadly bleed.
That’s why if you’re currently on one of these drugs, you need to make an appointment with your doctor ASAP and show him this research – especially if you’ve got kidney problems.
And if he won’t even consider changing his tune about your risk for a blood clot, don’t be shy about getting a second opinion — or even a third opinion.
Because when you get down to brass tacks, you have every reason in the world to question any drug you’re being told to take.
“Could a blood thinner actually raise stroke risk for some?” Robert Preidt, February, 15, 2018 HealthDay, philly.com