Atrial Fibrillation, or AFib, is a cardiovascular disease that affects the heart’s beating patterns. A person with AFib may experience irregular and/or rapid heartbeat and the symptoms of this condition vary greatly depending on several factors. Doctors often prescribe blood thinners to treat the condition.
What Causes AFib?
Doctors are generally unable to pin down exact causes of the condition, but there are several conditions that may put a person at greater risk for developing AFib.
A 2012 study tracked over 30,000 women with and without type 2 diabetes. Over the course of 16 years, the study found the women who had Type 2 diabetes had almost twice the risk of developing AFib than the women without Type 2 diabetes.
Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects the rhythm of one’s breathing while sleeping. Someone suffering from sleep apnea will experience pauses or “apneas” in breathing while sleeping. These apneas are now found to be linked to the irregular heartbeat or arrhythmias associated with AFib. A recent study found that when compared with normal sleep, the risk of arrhythmia was 18 percent higher directly after an apnea incident.
Hypertension, or abnormally high blood pressure, has been found to increase a person’s risk of having AFib. High blood pressure can force the structure of the heart to change and can in turn negatively affect the heart’s ability to pump correctly. Some experts say that uncontrolled blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for AFib.
How Is AFib Treated?
AFib itself poses a few risks that doctors attempt to limit with medication. AFib can cause the lower chamber of the heart to overwork itself, leading to a condition called cardiomyopathy.
There are other ways to treat the abnormal heart rate and rhythm associated with AFib. Some of these include:
Heart Rate Help:
Calcium Channel Blockers
Heart Rhythm Help
Sodium Channel Blockers
Potassium Channel Blockers
The other major worry for patients with AFib is stroke. That’s where blood thinners come in. Doctors prescribe blood thinners to reduce the chance of blood clots, which lead to stroke.
Preventing Against Stroke: Potential Medications
- Apixaban (Eliquis)
- Dabigatran (Pradaxa)
- Warfarin (Coumadin)
- Rivaroxaban (Xarelto)
The last medication on the list, Xarelto, is currently making headlines due to the more than 4,500 cases that have been filed against the drug’s manufacturers in multidistrict litigation. The drug can cause uncontrollable bleeding and researchers have yet to find a remedy for its potentially fatal side effects. Despite the negative publicity the drug receives, the parent company, Bayer, took in over $567 million in revenue for Xarelto sales in the first quarter of 2016.
Is Xarelto Still Legal?
Yes, Xarelto is currently still available for use and has not been recalled by the FDA.
What Makes Xarelto Dangerous?
There are three main reasons why Xarelto may be a dangerous blood thinner to take as a treatment for AFib.
If a person begins bleeding uncontrollably as a result of taking Xarelto, there is no known way to stop the bleeding. Therefore, if uncontrollable bleeding occurs, the patient is at risk for blood pooling internally, infection, and death. There are antidotes that exist for other blood thinners. For example, Pradaxa has an antidote called Praxbind that is administered via injection, and allows blood to clot again.
Low Therapeutic Index
Other anticoagulants like Coumadin require a patient to get their blood tested regularly, and dosage is altered to fit the patient’s needs. This is not the case with Xarelto. Instead, every person, regardless of weight, age, and gender, is prescribed the same dosage of Xarelto, resulting in a low therapeutic index. What this means is that there is a very fine line between “effective” and “deadly” when taking Xarelto.
Some people may be able to take Xarelto with no negative side effects, but if you experience health complications due to taking the drug, you may be able to take legal action.
Taking Action Against Xarelto
If you or someone you know has experienced complications as a result of taking Xarelto, you may be able to take legal action. Legal action may result in compensation for medical costs (past, current, and future), lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. If you have questions regarding your legal options, contact a product liability and/or personal injury attorney.
Thanks to our friend at Arenofsky Law, Arizona personal injury attorneys, for their contributions to this post.