People with atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm condition, take blood thinners to prevent stroke. Clots that can cause stroke form when irregular heartbeats allow blood to stagnate in the upper chambers of the heart (the atria). A new class of blood thinners, or anticoagulants, have some potential advantages over the standard of care, warfarin (Coumadin), but there are disadvantages and risks too. Using the new drugs requires people to be diligent about taking the drugs on time and as directed. In contrast, warfarin’s dose must be adjusted in response to regular blood tests of clotting function.
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