Public Release: 

Blood-thinning drugs need closer monitoring

Canadian Medical Association Journal

Natalie Oake and colleagues report on a meta-analysis of studies that recorded hemorrhages and thromboembolic (blood clot) events in patients taking blood-thinners. Their study shows that half of these events could be prevented by closer monitoring and adjustments of these drugs.

Blood-thinners are used to prevent blood clots in a variety of common conditions; for example, blood clots in veins, artificial heart valves, chronic heart rhythm disturbances. The dosage of these drugs must be carefully gauged to avoid causing the blood to be too thin (which permits hemorrhages) and not thin enough (permitting clot formation, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks). Treatment is monitored by means of the patient's international normalized ratio (INR).

Improved anticoagulation control could decrease the likelihood of almost half of all complications related to anticoagulant drugs. These results of this meta-analysis support further evaluation of the usefulness of anticoagulation clinics and even patient self-management of medication doses.

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p. 1589 Frequency of adverse events in patients with poor anticoagulation: a meta-analysis
-- N. Oake
http://www.cmaj.ca/pressrelease/pg1589.pdf

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