Harvard Heart Letter

Ask the doctor: Should I try one of the new blood thinners?

Q. I have atrial fibrillation and have been taking warfarin to prevent blood clots for 10 years. It has not given me any problems. However, I do hate going to my doctor's office to get my INR blood test every month. I'm wondering whether I should switch to one of the newer blood thinners that don't require blood testing.

A. If you have been successfully taking warfarin for this long, and do not have problems with wide, unpredictable variations in your INR levels, I would recommend that you stay on warfarin. The newer drugs, which include dabigatran (Pradaxa) and rivaroxaban (Xarelto), are wonderful innovations, but they have undergone less testing than warfarin.

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