In an effort to bring medical awareness to the public, certain months throughout the year are dedicated to a specific medical condition. March just happens to be Deep Vein Thrombosis and Blood Clot Awareness Month.
Why Are Blood Clots Such A Big Deal?
The truth is that blood clots can be a healthy, normal part of the body. Whenever someone starts to bleed, either internally or externally, the body releases chemicals around the source of the bleed to attract platelets. The platelets then release their own set of chemicals which cause them to stick to both the walls of the blood vessel and each other, forming a clot which will hopefully stop the bleeding.
Once an appropriate sized clot is formed and the body understands that the bleeding is no longer dangerous, another set of chemical reactions should occur so that platelets stop attaching and the clot doesn’t become any larger. Eventually, the body will break down the clot all on it’s own.
This is, assuming of course, that the body is reacting normally.
There are numerous health conditions that could result in abnormal clot formation, including:
- Heart arrhythmias
- Factor V Leiden
- Deep Vein Thrombosis
- Prothrombin gene mutation
On top of this, obesity, prolonged sitting or bed rest, pregnancy, smoking, and a surgical procedure could cause a clot formation.
While some of the clots may be small enough to not cause any damage, if a large clot travels through the blood vessels and ends up in a leg, lung, the heart, or the brain, the patient may sustain serious damage or die.
In fact, blood clots kill around 274 people every single day in the United States.
Thankfully, blood clots are both preventable and treatable. Unfortunately, sometimes the prescription drugs used to manage a patient is not as safe as they have been told.
Blood Thinners: The Good & The Bad
One of the oldest and most commonly used blood thinners until recently is Warfarin. This drug, although not problem-free, is one of the safer blood thinners on the market. However, the dosage needs to be correct and even the smallest changes in diet, weight, exercise level, or other medications mean that the Warfarin dose needs to be adjusted. As a result, patients need to have their blood tested, sometimes as often as once a week in order for their doctor to be sure that they are taking the right amount. This certainly doesn’t make the drug popular with patients due to the fact that it disrupts everyday life.
In an effort to make things easier on patients, researchers have developed several new blood thinners over the past year, including one of the most popular, Xarelto.
Xarelto: Not A Miracle Drug
Xarelto, which was widely marketed as a safe alternative to Warfarin, quickly became popular among both doctors and their patients for one important reason: the dose is a uniform one, regardless of the patient’s diet, age, sex, weight, or exercise level. It didn’t take long for Xarelto to become the most prescribed blood thinner available.
What the medical community and public didn’t know was that Xarelto had some serious side effects.
Xarelto Side Effects
Reported side effects have included:
- Pulmonary embolism
- Spinal hematoma
- GI bleeds
- Liver dysfunction
In addition to this, it turns out that unlike Warfarin, Xarelto has no antidote. Once bleeding occurs, a doctor is unable to reverse the effects of the blood thinner to stop the bleeding. The only option is to perform a blood transfusion but even then, there is no guarantee that doctors will be able to save the patient’s life.
It didn’t take long for thousands of patients who were harmed by Xarelto to file lawsuits against the manufacturers of the drug, seeking compensation for their losses. Today, more than 15,000 lawsuits have been filed and the first trials are set to start on March 13th, 2017.