FDA: Warning Issued to Patients with Mechanical Heart Valves

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is informing health care professionals and the public that the blood thinner (anticoagulant) Pradaxa (dabigatran etexilate mesylate) should not be used to prevent stroke or blood clots (major thromboembolic events) in patients with mechanical heart valves, also known as mechanical prosthetic heart valves. A clinical trial in Europe (the RE-ALIGN trial)1 was recently stopped because Pradaxa users were more likely to experience strokes, heart attacks, and blood clots forming on the mechanical heart valves than were users of the anticoagulant warfarin. There was also more bleeding after valve surgery in the Pradaxa users than in the warfarin users. Patients with all types of prosthetic heart valve replacements taking Pradaxa should talk to their health care professional as soon as possible to determine the most appropriate anticoagulation treatment. Patients should not stop taking anticoagulant medications without guidance from their health care professional; stopping Pradaxa or other anticoagulants suddenly can increase the risk of blood clots and stroke.
http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/ucm332912.htm