Study Finds Most Blood Thinner Patients Receiving Wrong Dose

A recent study just revealed that patients taking blood thinners might not be receiving appropriate doses of at least two of the most popularly prescribed brands of the medication.

Physicians with Intermountain Healthcare just discovered that the majority of patients taking blood thinners might be taking the wrong dose and these patients may be at risk for complications, said Deseret News.”There’s a sweet spot, an appropriate range for  each patient. But we found that not many people are falling into that range,” said Dr. Brent Muhlestein, a cardiologist and cardiac researcher at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

Heart disease, explained Dr. Muhlestein, leads to heart attack and stroke and remains the most common cause of death in the United States, comprising more than half the deaths in the U.S. each year. The goal continues to be to prevent coronary heart disease; however, once diagnosed, patients taking appropriate medications can experience improved results, Dr. Muhlestein added, said Deseret News.

The study revealed that of the more 520 patients tested at Intermountain Healthcare, 75 percent who were taking either Plavix (clopidogrel) or Effient (prasugrel) were receiving the wrong dose, Deseret News said.

Today’s guidelines indicate that all patients take a standard dose, which is the same across the board: 75 milligrams daily for Plavix; for Effient, 10 milligrams per day. “We showed that by performing a simple blood test to see whether or not the blood is clotting properly, we can determine whether patients are getting an appropriate, individualized dose of the medications,” Dr. Muhlestein told Deseret News. “The test is easy to perform, but not widely used.” Muhlestein noted that drug makers can receive approval for drugs by testing just one dose and proving that one dose is better than none, eliminating the need for any more testing of that drug.

The researchers used the Accumetrics VerifyNow System. Under the system, blood is tested following the loading dose received at the hospital. Blood is then tested two weeks later to ensure the maintenance dose was accurate; testing is conducted again, if the dose changes, explained Deseret News. Blood flow greater than 200 indicates the blood is too thick and can clot, which can result in stroke. Blood testing under 100 is too thin, which can lead to bleeding complications. “If they are out of range, they are more likely to have complications. It seems like it would be beneficial to get them in range and improve their outcomes,” Muhlestein told Deseret News.

Meanwhile, as we’ve reported previously, Plavix has been linked to a number of dangerous side effects, including: Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura or TTP (A condition which is marked by small clots through the entire circulatory system), gastrointestinal hemorrhages, cerebral hemorrhage, ulcers, internal bleeding, bone marrow damage, heart attack, stroke, and death.

In 2005, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) ordered that the Plavix label be updated to include information about reports linking Plavix to TTP.  According to the FDA, some reports of TTP in Plavix patients occurred after only a short exposure (less than two weeks).

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