What is Pradaxa (Dabigatran)?
Pradaxa is an oral medication prescribed to prevent stroke and blood clots from occurring. Pradaxa contains the active ingredient dabigatran, which is an anticoagulant that blocks thrombin (a clotting protein) from functioning. Pradaxa is used in cases of deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, atrial fibrillation, and after hip replacement surgery to prevent blood clots from forming. It should not be used after artificial heart valve replacement, however.
Always follow the instructions provided by your healthcare professional carefully. Pradaxa is to be taken orally, twice a day, with or without food. Children should take the doses 12 hours apart (one in the morning, one in the evening). The capsules must be swallowed whole with a large glass of water. The capsules are not to be chewed, crushed, or opened before ingestion, as this will release all the medication at once, and can lead to unwanted side effects. The prescribed dosage is dependent on the severity of your condition, your kidney function, response to treatment, and your existing medication schedule. In children, the dosage will also be dependent on age and weight. Take this medication only as directed. Do not alter the dose or stop taking this drug without first consulting your doctor.
Pradaxa must be stored in its original packaging until it is time to take it. Do not store capsules in a pill reminder box, as this can expose them to moisture. Store out of direct sunlight in a place that will not exceed 25°C. Keep out of reach of children and pets. Do not take expired medication or medication from packaging that has been tampered with. Dispose of expired or surplus medication responsibly, following the direction of your healthcare provider. Do not flush capsules down the toilet or sink unless instructed to do so.
Common Side Effects
All medication comes with a risk of side effects. It is important to recognize that your doctor has determined that your risk of side effects is outweighed by the potential benefit this product can provide. Side effects will differ between individuals, and it is possible you will not experience any side effects at all. Pradaxa is commonly associated with easy bruising, minor bleeding, digestive issues, or heartburn. If you experience any of these symptoms and they concern you, contact your healthcare professional, particularly if they worsen or do not resolve on their own.
Severe Side Effects
Occasionally, Pradaxa can be associated with severe side effects, which should be taken seriously. If you experience any of the following, contact your doctor right away: serious bleeding, unusual bruising, prolonged bleeding, frequent nosebleeds, heavy or prolonged menstrual bleeding, dark urine, coughing up blood, vomit that resembles coffee grounds, dizziness, weakness, or black stools.
If you experience severe abdominal pain, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, or yellowing skin, seek emergency medical assistance immediately.
Warnings & Precautions
Before starting Pradaxa, ensure your doctor is aware of any allergies you have. Do not take Pradaxa if you are allergic to dabigatran or any other inactive ingredients in the medication. Tell your doctor if you have had a severe allergic reaction to medication in the past.
Ensure your doctor is aware of your complete personal and family medical history, particularly of mechanical heart valve, kidney problems, bleeding disorders, stroke, blood disorders (e.g., anemia, hemophilia), liver disease, clotting disorders, or recent surgery. In addition, keep a list of the medications you take regularly (including prescription and non-prescription) and share this with your doctor. They may want to adjust your medication schedule to accommodate Pradaxa.
Always tell your doctor or dentist if you are taking Pradaxa before having surgery. They may want you to stop taking this medication prior to surgery. Always follow your doctor’s instructions carefully.
Muscular injections should be avoided. If an injection is necessary, have it in the upper arm, so that bleeding can be monitored and pressure applied if necessary.
Pradaxa can lead to bleeding in the stomach, and this can be exacerbated by frequent alcohol consumption. For this reason, it is recommended to limit your alcohol intake. Consult with your doctor if you are concerned.
Pradaxa can also lead to heavy bleeding. Be careful with razors and nail clippers, and avoid contact sports. Use a soft toothbrush and be gentle brushing your teeth. If you sustain an injury, contact your doctor right away. Older adults are more susceptible to bleeding.
This medication should only be prescribed to pregnant people when absolutely necessary. Pradaxa poses an increased risk of bleeding in the pregnant person, unborn baby, and newborn. If you think you may be pregnant, intend to become pregnant, or do become pregnant while taking Pradaxa, ask your doctor what to do next.
It is not known whether Pradaxa passes into breast milk. Talk to your doctor before breastfeeding while taking Pradaxa.
Interactions & Contraindications
Medications taken concurrently can interact with one another, changing the way one or both medications work and leading to unwanted side effects. Keep track of all the medication you take on a regular basis (including prescription and non-prescription) and share this with your doctor. Do not stop, start, or change the dosage of any of your medications without first talking to your doctor.
Pradaxa can interact with mifepristone. Other drugs can alter how Pradaxa is removed from the body, which can affect its function. These include cyclosporine, ketoconazole, rifampin, and St. John’s wort, among more. Aspirin and NSAIDs can have similar effects to Pradaxa and can increase the risk of bleeding if taken concurrently. Discuss with your doctor about alternative pain relief or aspirin alternatives.