Who can take dabigatran
Dabigatran (Pradaxa) is used to prevent:
- stroke in people with atrial fibrillation who have at least one other risk factor for stroke, such as diabetes or hypertension.
- blood clots from forming after hip or knee replacement surgery.
What are the benefits of taking dabigatran (Pradaxa)?
Dabigatran benefits people by preventing blood clots from forming, reducing the chance of serious blood clot-related problems such as stroke, heart attack or pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs).
Dabigatran is prescribed for people who are at higher risk of developing blood clots including people with atrial fibrillation and people who have had knee or hip replacement surgery.
People with atrial fibrillation are at greater risk of having a stroke than other people. This is because their heart beats irregularly and as a result, blood does not flow through their heart properly, allowing blood to pool in the heart forming a clot. The blood clot can be carried in the blood stream to the brain, blocking the blood flow causing a stroke. Dabigatran helps to prevent strokes by reducing the chances of a blood clot forming in the heart.
Note that dabigatran doesn’t treat the irregular heartbeat of atrial fibrillation, your doctor may prescribe other medicines to help control the rate or rhythm of your heart.
Hip or knee replacement surgery
People who have had hip or knee replacement surgery are at risk of blood clots forming. This is because they may be inactive while they recover from the surgery, meaning that their blood doesn’t circulate as efficiently through their veins, and can pool and form blood clots. The blood clots can lodge in a large vein of the leg, or sometimes the pelvis.
The medical term for this type of clot is deep vein thrombosis (DVT). If part of the clot breaks off, it can travel to, and lodge in, the lungs. This condition is known as pulmonary embolism (PE), and like DVT, is life-threatening. Dabigatran can be prescribed to prevent blood clots from forming in people who have had hip or knee replacement surgery.
In addition to taking dabigatran, your doctor may advise that you wear compression stockings while you are recovering from hip or knee replacement surgery to further reduce your risk of forming blood clots.
Find out about other medicines options for people who have had hip or knee surgery.
Who can receive dabigatran on the PBS?
Dabigatran is available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for short-term use to prevent blood clots forming after hip or knee replacement surgery, and for preventing blood clots recurring in people who have had a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) or pulmonary embolism (PE) before.
Dabigatran is also PBS subsidised for preventing stroke in people with atrial fibrillation who have one or more risk factors that increase their chance of having a stroke including:
- a previous stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA)
- being 75 years or older
- high blood pressure
- type 1 or type 2 diabetes
- heart failure.
Tell all your health professionals you are taking dabigatran
If you are taking dabigatran, tell all the health professionals treating you — including your doctor, pharmacist and dentist. They may need to talk to the doctor who prescribed dabigatran for you, particularly if you need to have surgery.
Be sure to let your doctor or pharmacist know about any other medicines you are taking in case they interact with dabigatran.
Speak to your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about taking dabigatran, and read the consumer medicines information for Pradaxa.
Phone for medicines information
Call NPS Medicines Line on 1300 MEDICINE (1300 633 424) to get information about your prescription, over-the-counter and complementary medicines (herbal, ‘natural’, vitamins and mineral supplements) from a pharmacist. Your call will be answered by healthdirect Australia.
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