When a physician prescribes a medication, we are typically inclined to trust that the drug will help, not harm. And yet, Xarelto, a blood thinner prescribed to millions of people to prevent dangerous blood clots that cause strokes is reported to have devastating side effects. Xarelto functions by blocking thrombin, which is the chemical in your blood that clots blood. The blocking of thrombin prevents clots from forming in patients that are at risk, such as patients who have joint surgery.
Xarelto and Liver Dysfunction
Although many studies and actual reports of Xarelto use indicate that there are significant risks associated with the popular blood thinner, celebrities continue to endorse the product, in an attempt to down play the risks. One of the many severe reported side effect that may occur when taking Xarelto is liver dysfunction. Liver dysfunction and failure occurs when there is a breakdown of the organ’s synthetic and detoxification processes. When an individual experiences liver damage or failure, all of the body’s organs are adversely affected. The liver synthesizes blood proteins, but when the liver fails, the heart begins to experience the lack of proteins and edema and hypertension occur fairly quickly. Neurotoxins begin to accumulate in the brain and the body’s response may cause cerebral edema.
Excessive bleeding often occurs when a patient experiences liver failure because many of the blood clotting factors are produced by the liver. Hypoglycemia also develops because the liver is no longer able to store glycogen or produce glucose from fat or protein. Triglycerides are no longer able to be used for energy and fat-soluble vitamins can’t be absorbed or stored for use by the body. Kidney failure often follows due to imbalances in the body’s electrolytes. The snow ball effect that occurs during liver failure can quickly lead to death.
Severe Liver Dysfunction
Xarelto is known to cause what physicians categorize as severe liver dysfunction. JAMA Internal Medicine Journal published a 2015 report that discusses many adverse symptoms of Xarelto and have published previous reports that links hepatitis and liver dysfunction to Xarelto. Another recent study indicates that patients that have been taking Xarelto for between one to six months are the most at risk for experiencing abnormal liver function tests and males are twice as likely to experience abnormal liver function than females. Symptoms of liver failure include:
- Loss of appetite
- Swollen abdomen
- Uncontrolled bleeding
- Disorientation or confusion
Liver dysfunction, or hepatotoxicity, is revealed when ALT levels are elevated and numerous studies have determined that moderate to severe elevations occur in 3% of patients who are taking Xarelto. The cause of liver injury while taking Xarelto is unknown, but rivaroxaban, the active ingredient, is metabolized largely in the liver and is highly susceptible to interactions with other drugs.
What Does The FDA Say About Xarelto?
Although the Food and Drug Administration has issued numerous safety warnings regarding Xarelto and two “black box warnings,” Xarelto has not been banned. A black box warning is the highest level of warning issued by the FDA with respect to a drug. When the FDA issues these warnings, it means that “reasonable evidence” of a hazard exists. Additionally, the FDA identified research misconduct in the Rocket clinical studies upon which the warnings were based, causing further concern. In 2009, the FDA indicated that the potential for liver damage existed in those taking Xarelto; however, it had not been “fully characterized,” indicating that further research would be conducted.