Generic Name: dabigatran (da BIG a tran)
Brand Names: Pradaxa
Medically reviewed: January 19, 2017
What is Pradaxa?
Pradaxa (dabigatran) is an anticoagulant (thrombin inhibitor) that helps prevent the formation of blood clots.
Pradaxa is used to reduce the risk of stroke and blood clots in people who have a medical condition called atrial fibrillation.
Pradaxa is also used to treat blood clots in the veins of your legs (deep vein thrombosis, or DVT) or lungs (pulmonary embolism, or PE) and reduce the risk of them occurring again.
You should not take Pradaxa if you have an artificial heart valve, or if you have any active bleeding from a surgery, injury, or other cause.
Because Pradaxa keeps your blood from coagulating (clotting) to prevent unwanted blood clots, this medicine can also make it easier for you to bleed, even from a minor injury such as a fall or a bump on the head. Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you have bleeding that will not stop.
Pradaxa can cause a very serious blood clot around your spinal cord if you undergo a spinal tap or receive spinal anesthesia (epidural), especially if you have a genetic spinal defect, if you have a spinal catheter in place, if you have a history of spinal surgery or repeated spinal taps, or if you are also using other drugs that can affect blood clotting. This type of blood clot can lead to long-term or permanent paralysis.
Get emergency medical help if you have symptoms of a spinal cord blood clot such as back pain, numbness or muscle weakness in your lower body, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
Do not stop taking Pradaxa without your doctor's advice. Stopping the medication can increase your risk of stroke.
Before taking this medicine
You should not take Pradaxa if you are allergic to dabigatran, or if you have:
an artificial heart valve; or
any active bleeding from a surgery, injury, or other cause.
Pradaxa may cause you to bleed more easily, especially if:
you have a stomach ulcer;
you have recent or recurring bleeding in your stomach or intestines;
you have kidney disease (especially if you also take dronedarone or ketoconazole);
you take certain other medicines that can increase bleeding risk, such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), heparin, prasugrel, warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven);
you take an NSAID (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug) on a regular basis, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), diclofenac, indomethacin, meloxicam, and others; or
you are older than 75.
Pradaxa can cause a very serious blood clot around your spinal cord if you undergo a spinal tap or receive spinal anesthesia (epidural). This type of blood clot could cause long-term paralysis, and may be more likely to occur if:
you have a genetic spinal defect;
you have a spinal catheter in place;
you have a history of spinal surgery or repeated spinal taps;
you have recently had a spinal tap or epidural anesthesia;
you are taking an NSAID--Advil, Aleve, Motrin, and others; or
you are using other medicines to treat or prevent blood clots.
To make sure Pradaxa is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
a history of stomach ulcer or bleeding; or
if you are older than 75.
It is not known whether Pradaxa will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.
It is not known whether dabigatran passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed a baby.
How should I take Pradaxa?
Take Pradaxa exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Take this medicine with a full glass of water. You may take Pradaxa with or without food.
Do not crush, chew, break, or open a capsule. Swallow the capsule whole.
Because Pradaxa keeps your blood from coagulating (clotting) to prevent unwanted blood clots, this medicine can also make it easier for you to bleed, even from a minor injury such as a fall or a bump on the head. Contact your doctor or seek emergency medical attention if you fall or hit your head, or have any bleeding that will not stop.
If you need surgery, dental work, or any type of medical test or treatment, tell the doctor or dentist ahead of time if you have taken Pradaxa within the past 12 hours. You may need to stop taking this medicine for a short time before you have surgery or other medical procedures.
Do not stop taking Pradaxa without your doctor's advice. Stopping the medication can increase your risk of stroke. Your doctor may recommend another medication to prevent blood clots if you need to stop taking Pradaxa.
Your kidney function may need to be checked with blood tests before and during treatment with Pradaxa.
Keep the capsules in their original container or blister pack. Do not put Pradaxa capsules into a daily pill box or pill organizer.
If you have received more than a 30-day supply of this medication, do not open more than one bottle at a time. Open a new bottle only after all the capsules in the old bottle are gone.
Store at room temperature, away from moisture and heat. Keep each capsule in the bottle or blister pack until you are ready to take the medicine. Keep the bottle tightly closed when not in use.
Throw away any unused capsules if it has been longer than 4 months since you first opened the bottle. Capsules stored in a blister pack should be thrown away after the expiration date on the label has passed.
See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)
What happens if I miss a dose?
If you miss a dose of Pradaxa, take it as soon as you remember. If your next dose is less than 6 hours away, skip the missed dose. Do not take two doses of Pradaxa at the same time. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
Try not to miss any doses of Pradaxa to best prevent a stroke.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while taking Pradaxa?
Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.
Avoid drinking alcohol. It may increase your risk of bleeding in your stomach or intestines.
Pradaxa side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Pradaxa: hives; pain or tight feeling in your chest, wheezing, difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Also seek emergency medical attention if you have symptoms of a spinal blood clot: back pain, numbness or muscle weakness in your lower body, or loss of bladder or bowel control.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
any bleeding that will not stop;
headache, weakness, dizziness, feeling like you might pass out;
easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
blood in your urine or stools, black or tarry stools;
coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
pink or brown urine;
joint pain or swelling; or
heavy menstrual bleeding.
Common Pradaxa side effects may include:
stomach pain or discomfort;
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Pradaxa?
Before you take Pradaxa, tell your doctor if you also take rifampin (Rifater, Rifamate, Rimactane, Rifadin).
Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with Pradaxa, especially other medicines used to treat or prevent blood clots, such as:
abciximab, clopidogrel, dipyridamole, eptifibatide, ticlopidine, tirofiban;
alteplase, reteplase, tenecteplase, urokinase;
apixaban, argatroban, bivalirudin, desirudin, lepirudin, rivaroxaban; or
dalteparin, enoxaparin, heparin, tinzaparin.
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with dabigatran, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Pradaxa only for the indication prescribed.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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- Drug class: thrombin inhibitors