Pradaxa Introduction for New Users

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1 Pradaxa Introduction for New Users Introduction Blood clots frequently happen in people who have diseases of the blood vessels or heart. They may pose a dangerous threat to some people. Blood clots may cause loss of a limb, strokes, and even death. Your doctor may ask you to take a blood thinner to help prevent harmful blood clots. Pradaxa is a blood-thinning medication. It is used for people with an irregular heartbeat that is not caused by a heart valve problem. This reference summary will help you better understand the benefits and risks of taking Pradaxa. Benefits of Pradaxa Blood contains natural substances that cause it to clot. When a person bleeds as a result of an injury, the natural clotting substances in the blood cause the blood at the injury site to harden and form a seal. These good clots help minimize blood loss from the injury site. Some people with diseases of the blood vessels and heart, or who are limited in their mobility following surgery, can form harmful blood clots inside the blood vessels. A harmful blood clot is called a thrombus. A harmful blood clot can get bigger and block the flow of blood within blood vessels. They can also move within the body. Body parts that stop receiving blood because of a blood clot can be greatly damaged. A stroke results when a blood clot stops blood flow to part of the brain. A heart attack results when a blood clot stops blood flow to the heart. 1

2 Gangrene may happen when a blood clot stops blood flow to part of an extremity. This may lead to the death of the affected part and the necessity of amputation. An amputation is surgery to remove part or all of a limb, such as an arm or a leg. A pulmonary embolism happens when a blood clot stops blood flow to the lungs. This may lead to shortness of breath and the possibility of death. Although all people are at some risk of forming harmful blood clots, there are certain medical conditions that increase a person s risk. The following medical conditions increase your risk of forming harmful blood clots: Cardiovascular diseases Implanted medical devices Irregular heartbeat Prolonged bed rest To reduce the risk of harmful blood clots, doctors may ask patients to take a medicine called a blood thinner. Pradaxa is one such type of blood thinner your doctor may prescribe. Pradaxa decreases the ability of the blood to form clots. This makes it less likely that harmful blood clots will form. Your doctor will tell you for how long you will have to take Pradaxa. Some people may have to take Pradaxa forever. Risks of Pradaxa Like any other medicine, Pradaxa poses some risks, which you should know about. By understanding these risks, you may be able to avoid them or detect them early if they happen. Pradaxa may cause side effects. Some of the side effects are severe, even life threatening. Others are less serious. 2

3 Less serious side effects of Pradaxa include: Diarrhea Indigestion or heart burn Mild skin rash or itching Nausea Stomach pain Because Pradaxa reduces the ability of the body to form blood clots, a person on Pradaxa will bleed longer after an injury than a person who is not on Pradaxa. Longer bleeding can result in an excessive loss of blood if the person is involved in an accident. Severe blood loss can be fatal. Bleeding inside the brain, even after minor accidents, can also be deadly. Faster, longer bleeding also poses a potential risk when bleeding happens inside the body. For example, if there is bleeding in the stomach caused by an ulcer, the body cannot easily stop this bleeding. This can cause dangerous situations that may be fatal. For these reasons, your doctor will give you enough Pradaxa to thin your blood without thinning it too much. If the blood is not thin enough, blood clots inside the blood vessels and heart may form. If, on the other hand, the blood is too thin, you risk a longer bleeding time. The solution is to take the amount of Pradaxa prescribed by your doctor. Taking Pradaxa Before and during treatment with Pradaxa, your kidney function will need to be checked. It is important that you schedule regular appointments with your healthcare provider to monitor your kidney health while taking Pradaxa. Pradaxa comes in a capsule or pill form. The standard dose for a person with normal kidney function is 150 milligrams (mg) twice daily. People with poor kidney function may be prescribed 75 mg dose twice daily. Follow your healthcare provider s instructions regarding the correct dose for you. 3

4 Pradaxa capsules should be kept in their original container to ensure that the medicine is kept dry. Do not put Pradaxa capsules into a pill box or pill organizer. Doing so could expose the capsules to moisture. Never crush, break, chew, or open a Pradaxa capsule. The pill should be swallowed whole. It is recommended for people who take Pradaxa to take the pill at the same time of the day, twice a day. Never adjust your dosage without your healthcare provider s approval. Also, you should never start or stop a medication without first talking to your healthcare provider about the potential risks and side effects. Pradaxa works best when it is taken regularly. Try not to miss any doses of Pradaxa. Doing so increases your risk for blood clots, stroke, and other health problems. If you miss a dose of Pradaxa but are less than 6 hours late in taking it, you can take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up for the missed dose. It is important to tell a healthcare provider that you take Pradaxa before surgery, dental work, or any type of medical test or treatment. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time if your healthcare provider recommends it. Special Considerations While taking Pradaxa, you should avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Take special care when shaving, brushing your teeth, or performing other daily tasks that may cause bleeding. You should also avoid drinking alcohol while you are taking Pradaxa. Drinking alcohol while taking Pradaxa may increase your risk of bleeding in your stomach and intestines. 4

5 People on Pradaxa should ask their pharmacist and physician before starting any new medications, especially antibiotics. Even some over-the-counter medications can affect or be affected by Pradaxa. Be sure to tell any and all healthcare providers that you are on Pradaxa, especially if any type of surgery or injection is considered. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, and any other healthcare provider you visit. If you are a woman taking Pradaxa, you should always tell your doctor if you are pregnant or may become pregnant. Pradaxa may prevent a fertilized egg from attaching to the wall of the uterus and may contribute to infertility. Pregnant women should also be aware that Pradaxa can cause excessive bleeding during delivery. It is recommended that people who are on blood thinners like Pradaxa wear a Medical Alert bracelet. This is especially important in cases of medical emergencies when you are unable to communicate with your doctors. When to Call Your Doctor Even if you are taking the prescribed amount of Pradaxa, dangerous internal bleeding or blood clots can still happen. It is very important to report ANY signs of internal bleeding or blood clots to your physician. This section discusses when you should call your healthcare provider. You or one of your family members or friends should call your doctor if you have a serious fall or hit your head, especially if you develop a headache or become sleepy or weak. The doctor may want to check that you do not have bleeding within the brain. If you notice any blood in your urine or stools, or if the urine or stool turns very dark, call your doctor. The doctor may want to check that you do not have internal bleeding in your digestive or urinary systems. If you notice unusual bruising, large areas of bruising, or black and blue marks on your skin for unknown reasons, you should inform your healthcare provider. This may mean that you are bleeding under your skin. 5

6 Small bruises that result from minor accidents, such as a leg hitting the furniture, are normal and do not require an automatic call to the doctor. Check with your doctor if you experience dizziness, trouble breathing, or chest pain. Also contact your doctor if you feel weak or more tired than usual, or if you feel like you might pass out. These can be signs of blood loss and anemia. Anemia is a medical condition in which the number of red blood cells is below normal. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body. Call your doctor when there is bleeding that does not stop from cuts or from your nose. Call your doctor if the bleeding does not stop after approximately seven minutes. Call your doctor if you notice more bleeding than usual when you brush or floss your teeth. Also report any unusually bleeding from your vagina or rectum, or if you notice purple or red pinpoint spots under any area of your skin. Tell your doctor if you notice more bleeding than usual when you get your menstrual period or bleeding between periods. If you have a high fever or an illness that seems to be getting worse, check with your doctor. You should also check with your healthcare provider if you notice any blood when you cough or vomit, which may look like coffee grounds. Also contact your doctor if you have loose or runny stools or an infection with high fevers and chills. If you experience pain or swelling in any of your joints, check with your doctor, as you could be bleeding inside the joint. Summary Your doctor may ask you to take a blood thinner to help prevent harmful blood clots. Pradaxa is a type of medication that is used to thin the blood and prevent clots. Pradaxa decreases the body s ability to form clots. This makes it less likely that harmful blood clots will form inside the heart and blood vessels or around implanted devices such as mechanical valves. Your kidney health will need to be checked before you begin Pradaxa. Your healthcare provider will need to routinely check your kidney health for as long as you continue taking Pradaxa. 6

7 There are some risks and side effects associated with Pradaxa. Talk to your healthcare provider about the potential risks associated with Pradaxa. Your doctor will tell you for how long you will have to take Pradaxa. Some people may have to take Pradaxa forever. 7

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