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What Is Rivaroxaban?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 17, 2024
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Rivaroxaban is a medication that a doctor might recommend to reduce the risk of developing a blood clot. This drug acts on factor Xa, one of the clotting mechanisms in the blood, to prevent coagulation. Like other anticoagulant medications, it is available by prescription only in most jurisdictions, and the patient might need to be monitored for safety, because it can increase the risk of an uncontrolled bleed. As of 2011, this drug was not available worldwide.

Patients who are hospitalized because of severe illnesses can be at risk of a complication called venous thromboembolism (VTE), the formation of a clot that can cause serious medical problems. This is the result of lying still in bed and being unable to exercise or move around. Anticoagulant medications such as rivaroxaban might be prescribed in this situation to limit the chances of stroke or other complications that can occur when a clot gets loose and starts to circulate through the bloodstream. One benefit of rivaroxaban is that the patient does not need to be monitored as carefully as he or she does on a drug like warfarin, a very popular anticoagulant.

Another reason why rivaroxaban is used is in recovery from hip or knee replacement, two procedures that are known to have clotting as a potential complication. After this procedure, taking the medication regularly for a brief period of time can help limit clotting while the patient recovers and becomes more active. The drug also can be used for stroke prevention in patients who have atrial fibrillation. As with many pharmaceuticals, researchers are always looking for new uses of the drug.

The main risk of rivaroxaban therapy is bleeding. Patients who are on anticoagulants can develop bleeding that is difficult to control in the wake of injuries, and they might develop strokes and internal injuries if they do not receive treatment. A patient who is on this medication should be alert for signs of internal bleeding, such as headaches, bloody urine and dark stool. While on this medication, the patient might also notice that bruises are deeper and more persistent, which can cause discomfort.

Patients who are using rivaroxaban might want to consider carrying a medic alert card with them. In the event of an accident or emergency situation, it can be important for emergency respondents and medical workers to know that the patient is on blood thinners. The card should note the medication and dosage schedule for the benefit of care providers. Noting why the medication was originally prescribed can be helpful, because a history of a condition such as atrial fibrillation could be a cause for concern.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a WiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
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