Some UK patients at risk of having a stroke can now be prescribed with a new blood thinning tablet, it has been announced.
The oral anticoagulant apixaban (EliquisR) was launched in the UK in December by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer.
It gained European approval in November as a treatment option to prevent stroke and systemic embolism in adults with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) and one or more risk factors.
Risk factors include a previous stroke or transient ischaemic attack, hypertension, symptomatic heart failure, diabetes mellitus or being aged 75 or over.
It is thought AF leads to around 12,500 strokes in the UK each year.
Professor John Camm, clinical cardiologist at London’s St George’s Hospital, said AF resulted in the risk of stroke rising fivefold and added that AF-related strokes were often more severe and caused more deaths than other strokes.
He said: “For decades, the most commonly used anticoagulant has been warfarin. However, it requires on-going INR monitoring and can have undesirable drug and diet interactions. The availability of more recent medicines such as apixaban adds to the treatment options available.”