An international research team with prominent Canadian leadership has found that the blood thinner rivaroxaban is as safe as aspirin, and more effective at preventing recurrence of life-threatening blood clots in the legs and lungs, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
At least one out of 1,000 Canadians will experience one of these blood clots every year, a condition called venous thromboembolism. The clots can be deadly if they travel to the lungs (pulmonary embolism), and are the third most common cardiovascular cause of death after heart attack and stroke.
Venous thromboembolism is a chronic disease, with risks of additional blood clots over a patient’s lifetime. However, many physicians and patients are deciding against long-term treatment with blood thinners because of concern about the risk of bleeding. Some are choosing aspirin instead because they consider it to be safer.
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The large international study of 3,396 patients with venous thromboembolism in 31 countries shows, however, that rivaroxaban is more effective than aspirin.
“Not only that, but in testing two doses of rivaroxaban, we found that we have the option of lowering the daily dose for extended treatment,” said Dr. Jeffrey Weitz, principal investigator of the study and professor of medicine and biochemistry and biomedical sciences at the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University. “This will ease the long-term concerns of both patients and their doctors.”