How long you need to take dabigatran (Pradaxa) will depend on whether you are taking it to prevent a stroke if you have atrial fibrillation or for preventing a blood clot after hip or knee replacement surgery.Do not stop taking dabigatran before your doctor tells you to. If you do, you will be at risk of developing blood clots and of having a stroke.
Stroke prevention in people with atrial fibrillation
Dabigatran is likely to be a long-term treatment if you are taking it to prevent stroke. Don’t stop treatment unless your doctor tells you to, because doing so will increase your risk of having a stroke.
Hip or knee replacement surgery
Dabigatran is a short-term treatment for preventing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) (clots that can form in the veins of your legs) following hip or knee replacement surgery.
You should take dabigatran for as long as your doctor tells you. This is usually:
- 10 days for knee replacement surgery
- 28–35 days for hip replacement surgery.
If you stop taking dabigatran before your doctor tells you to, you are at risk of developing a blood clot in a vein of your leg. This is dangerous because the clot may move to your lungs, causing a life-threatening condition called pulmonary embolism (PE).
Tell your doctor immediately or go to the emergency department of your nearest hospital if you notice swelling of the leg, or if you have a cough and are short of breath. These could be signs of a blood clot.
Some tips for using dabigatran safely
- Take your dabigatran at the same time every day.
- Do not take double to make up for missed doses.
- Ask your doctor or pharmacist the date you should stop taking dabigatran. Write this date on the box and do not take any capsules after that.
- Don’t take dabigatran for longer than the prescribed number of days.
Find out more about:
- Rossi S, ed. eAMH [online]. Australian Medicines Handbook, January 2013. www.amh.net.au (accessed June 2013).
- Cardiovascular Expert Group. Therapeutic guidelines: cardiovascular. Therapeutic Guidelines Ltd; 2013. www.tg.org.au (accessed June 2013).
- NPS Medicine Update, April 2010. Dabigatran (Pradaxa) for preventing blood clots after hip or knee replacement surgery
- NPS Medicine Update, August 2011. Dabigatran (Pradaxa) for preventing stroke in people with atrial fibrillation