A Safer Blood Thinner Dosage

Atrial fibrillation anticoagulants can be dosed more safely

(RxWiki News) Patients with a common heart arrhythmia called atrial fibrillation typically take blood thinners to reduce the risk of blood clots. This medication is usually tough to dose and requires frequent blood testing.

Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology have pinpointed a method for more accurately assessing risks to ensure patients receive the most appropriate dose.

"Follow up with a doctor regularly if you take anticoagulants."

Marcus Lind, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Gothenburg's Sahlgrenska Academy, said that the new method considers how blood viscosity, a measure of blood thickness, increases and decreases. He said this means that they were able to more reliably identify which patients were at risk of a stroke, hemorrhaging or dying.

Patients with atrial fibrillation are at an increased risk of stroke or dying. It is typically treated with warfarin, which requires regular blood tests to monitor whether the dose should be increased if coagulation is too quick or decreased if it is too slow.

During the study researchers enrolled 20,000 patients in Sweden to test a new measurement method for assessing risk of serious complications and hospital admission. Unlike previous models, this method considers extremes that fall outside the ideal range.

"In the past we've only checked whether patients fall within the therapeutic range but the new method allows us to identify more accurately how coagulation varies both within and beyond this range," said Anders Odén, a professor of biostatistics at Chalmers University of Technology.

The new method is believed to better pinpoint patients at the highest risk of complications so that those patients can be monitored more closely to reduce their risk.

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Review Date: 
December 12, 2011