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Blood-thinning Medication is Used by NHS to Prevent Thousands of Strokes


According to the chief of the NHS, blood-thinning medications have saved thousands of lives in patients with heart conditions that increase their risk of stroke.

About 460,000 patients in England with atrial fibrillation (AF), a dangerously erratic heart rate, have started using one of four anticoagulant medications that have been shown to lower their risk of stroke since January 2022.

Amanda Pritchard claims that the quick introduction of the medications has saved the lives of 4,000 people who would have otherwise passed away and averted almost 17,000 strokes.

In England, strokes claim the lives of roughly 27,000 individuals annually and result in about 120,000 hospital admissions.

Ninety percent of the 1.5 million people with AF in England are currently taking the medication thanks to an NHS-wide initiative to promote their use. Given that AF causes approximately one in five strokes, this should lead to a reduction in strokes, which are a major cause of mortality and disability.

At the King’s Fund health thinktank’s annual conference on Thursday, NHS England chief executive Pritchard will remark, “The rapid rollout of these drugs is a monumental step forward in providing the best possible care for patients with cardiovascular disease.”

The medications, known as direct oral anticoagulants, assist in preventing blood clotting, which lowers the possibility that a clot would form and result in a stroke. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence advised physicians to prescribe dabigatran, apixaban, rivaroxaban, and edoxaban as anticoagulants in 2021. Most often, edoxaban is prescribed.

“This is fantastic news,” declared Dr. Maeva May, director of policy and research at the Stroke Association, “because one in five strokes are caused by AF and strokes in people with AF are more severe and are more likely to result in death or serious disability.” She continued, “Most AF-related strokes can be prevented with the right medication.”

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