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Blood thinner could cut stroke risk

New research has revealed that a drug could offer a breakthrough in blood thinning treatments, helping more than a million people in the UK.

A trial has found that the risk of strokes in people who suffer from atrial fibrillation (AF) is greatly reduced when taking dabigatran etexilate - which is marketed as Pradaxa.

It was discovered that the drug is easier to control without accidentally administering an incorrect dose, and was found to have a better effect than the commonly used drug warfarin.

How Pradaxa can be used in the UK will be decided in a number of months, when European regulators make a final ruling.

Around 1.2 million people in the UK suffer from AF, which is a prominent risk factor for stroke. Around 150,000 Britons suffer a stroke each year, 15% of which are a direct result of AF.

The trial findings have been presented at the annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology in New Orleans.

They showed that Pradaxa reduced stroke risk by between 30% and 39% in patients with three different types of AF.

Professor Martin Cowie, from the Royal Brompton Hospital, London, said: "Every year in the UK, 20,000 people have a stroke related to atrial fibrillation, a stroke that is often devastating. It is of upmost importance that AF patients are identified and measures are taken to thin their blood. There hasn't been a new oral anticoagulant in Europe approved for more than 50 years.

"Dabigatran etexilate could provide an invaluable option for patients suffering from all AF types."

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American College of Cardiology