New Recommendations to Reduce Stroke Risk in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation Includes Blood Thinners

Posted on February 16, 2016 by Disability Help Group

Updated guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) published in the journal Neurology recommend that people who have atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat) take anticoagulants (blood thinners) to reduce risk of a stroke. The updated guidelines also state that taking blood thinners is particularly important if someone with this irregular heartbeat has already suffered a mini-stroke or stroke.

According to experts from AAN, atrial fibrillation is a main risk factor for stroke. That’s because blood clots can form as a result of blood pooling in the upper chambers of the heart. If the clot breaks off and travels to the brain, it can cause a stroke.

It’s important to take the anticoagulants under the care of a doctor, as there is an increased risk of bleeding. Compared to the popular medication warfarin, newer drugs on the market—such as dabigatran (Pradaxa), apixaban (Eliquis) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto)—may be as or more effective but create less risk of bleeding in the brain according to the AAN. Patients on warfarin have to undergo numerous blood tests because of the bleeding risks. But patients taking the newer medications don’t have to undergo as many.

AAN has also indicated that patients who couldn’t take warfarin because of certain risk factors may be able to take the newer blood thinners. This might include patients with dementia and the elderly.

When a stroke does occur, it can be disabling and prevent someone from working. This may qualify an individual for Social Security disability benefits. However, there could be challenges getting a claim approved. If you need assistance filing an initial application or appealing a claim that has been denied, contact the Disability Help Group. Call us at 1-(800)-800-3332.