Health & Wellness

Stopping Blood Thinners Can Increase Your Stroke Risk

By Wendy Haaf

One in three older people prescribed new-generation blood thinners isn’t taking them properly, boosting the risk for stroke, mini-stroke, or premature death by 80%.

Researchers at Toronto’s Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences pored over the records of 25,976 people with atrial fibrillation (AF, a quivering or irregular heartbeat) who were given prescriptions for the anticoagulants dabigatran or rivaroxaban between January 1998 and March 2014. Six months after the initial prescription, roughly one in three had stopped taking the drugs for a period of two weeks or more.

Compared with those who continued to take these medications as directed, patients who stopped taking dabigatran had four times the incidence rate of stroke or mini-stroke (also known as TIA, or transient ischemic attack), and those who discontinued rivaroxaban had six times the rate.

Photo: iStock/donskarpo.