Treating Atrial Fibrillation With Xarelto

Xarelto for Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a type of abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia) that occurs when the electrical system that controls the heartbeat is no longer working properly. It occurs in the atria of the heart (the upper chambers).
Symptoms may include an irregular heart rhythm, a rapid heart rate, heart palpitations (the sensation that your heart is racing or pounding), or feeling like your heart is fluttering (see Symptoms of Atrial Fibrillation). With atrial fibrillation, both the heart rhythm and rate are abnormal.
These arrhythmias may cause certain complications, such as:
The goals of treatment for atrial fibrillation usually include one or more of the following:
  • Return the heartbeat to a normal sinus rhythm, if possible
  • Control the heart rate, if normal sinus rhythm cannot be achieved safely
  • Prevent blood clots from forming by prescribing an anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medication, such as Pradaxa®
  • Treat the underlying causes of the abnormal rhythm and any atrial fibrillation complications
  • Reduce the risk factors that may lead to a worsening of the condition.
Xarelto has several potential advantages over warfarin (Coumadin®, Jantoven®), the drug most commonly used for anticoagulation in people with atrial fibrillation in the past. Warfarin can be very tricky to dose properly, and frequent monitoring and dosage adjustment is often necessary. Xarelto dosing is simple and straightforward, with no need for frequent monitoring. Warfarin interacts with many foods; Xarelto does not.
Potential disadvantages for Xarelto include the fact that the drug cannot be readily reversed (like warfarin can) and is more expensive.
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