Blood thinners now recommended for irregular heartbeat?

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People with irregular heartbeat should take blood thinners to prevent stroke, an updated guideline from the American Academy of Neurology recommends. Irregular heartbeat is a major risk for stroke and experts say taking theses blood thinners is especially important for people who already had a stroke.

Several new blood thinners have been developed since the AAN’s last guideline on the topic was released in 1998. The new drugs, such as dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban, are as effective or more effective than the established treatment warfarin have a lower risk of bleeding in the brain, the new guideline states. In addition, the new drugs do not require the frequent blood testing warfarin. The guideline also states the new blood thinners may be used by many people who are usually excluded because they are elderly, have mild dementia, or have moderate risk of falls.

“Of course, doctors will need to consider the individual patient’s situation in making a decision whether or not to use anticoagulants, and which one to use, as the risks and benefits can vary for each person,” guideline lead author Antonio Culebras, MD, of SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, was quoted as saying.

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