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What Is Dabigatran Etexilate?

By Jillian O Keeffe
Updated May 17, 2024
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Dabigatran etexilate is a drug that acts on the body to reduce the risk of clots in the circulatory system under certain conditions. Patients who have a medical problem known as nonvalvular atrial fibrillation might be administered this medication. One of the potential side effects of dabigatran etexilate is a tendency to bleed or bruise more easily than usual.

Nonvalvular atrial fibrillation is a condition in which a person's heart does not beat in a normal rhythm. Patients who have this illness are at risk of their blood clotting in the blood vessels, with these clots potentially being fatal or capable of causing strokes. To manage the risk of this happening, a doctor might prescribe dabigatran etexilate to the patient.

The drug is an enzyme inhibitor, so it blocks the action of one particular enzyme, called thrombin, on processes inside the circulatory system. In a healthy person, thrombin causes blood to clot, which is useful for open wounds and other injuries to the body that cause bleeding. In the case of people who have abnormal heartbeats, thrombin can produce dangerous clots inside the body. Dabigatran etexilate blocks thrombin from performing one step in the clotting process — turning a substance called fibrinogen into another substance called fibrin, which helps the clot to form.

As a side effect of the lowered ability of the body to clot blood, patients who take dabigatran etexilate might experience unusual bleeding and an increased likelihood of bruising. The most common side effects are mostly gastrointestinal in nature, ranging from indigestion and sore throat to the more severe condition of blood in the stool and vomiting up blood. Allergies can also occur to the drug, which manifest themselves in hives, trouble breathing and other symptoms, such as wheezing and fever.

Several drug interactions can occur with this medicine, especially with drugs that have a thinning effect on the blood, such as warfarin or aspirin. Other drugs that might be unsuitable to take at the same time as dabigatran etexilate include antibiotics such as rifampin and herbs such as St. John's wort. Even tobacco and alcohol can cause adverse effects if consumed concurrently with the drug.

Coming in a capsule form, this drug should be taken whole. A typical twice-daily dose for an adult ranges from 75-150 milligrams, but these dosages might be tweaked by a doctor to suit individual patients. Children might also be suitable candidates for the drug if a doctor approves it.

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Discussion Comments

By kylee07drg — On Aug 24, 2011

I take dabigatran etexilate, and though I know I need the drug, I hate the side effects. A blood clot is scary, but so is the thought of potentially bleeding to death because of my medicine.

During my first menstrual period after I started taking dabigatran etexilate, I noticed a heavier flow than usual. By my third period, I was bleeding so much that I had to change tampons every hour, and I was using the highest absorbency I could buy!

Also, every time I nicked my skin, whether with a razor while shaving or with a sheet of paper, it took forever for the bleeding to stop. I had to put a bandage on even the smallest cuts to encourage clotting.

By StarJo — On Aug 24, 2011

My doctor told me that I had a high risk of having a stroke because of my nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. He gave me dabigatran etexilate to help reduce the risk. I feel safer knowing that my potential for suddenly developing a blood clot has been significantly lowered.

However, I started to bruise like crazy. It seemed that every time I grazed a door or lightly bumped into anything, I got a big black bruise.

My husband has a couple of big dogs that stay outside. Normally, I play with them while he’s at work. Now, I have to wear layers of protective clothing and boots before I go out there, because they play rough, and I would end up looking like a rotten banana if I didn’t shield myself from them.

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