Following joint replacement surgery, a team of efficient scientists including some from Oklahoma, Denmark, Australia and Canada, has found a better way to prevent deadly blood clots.
Blood clots, known as deep-vein thrombosis (DVT), affect the large veins in the lower leg and thigh.
If the clot breaks free and moves through the bloodstream, it can lodge in the lungs, a condition known as pulmonary embolism (PE), which is often fatal.
Current preventive treatments include uncomfortable injections and one oral anti-clotting medicine that are difficult for patients and physicians to manage.
The research team, therefore, set out to find a better way to prevent blood clots without increasing the risk of bleeding.
In a double-blind study of more than 3,000 patients, researchers tested a new type of anti-clotting drug called Apixaban, which is an oral medication.
The medicine proved just as effective at preventing blood clots and reduced the risk of bleeding by half.
"This is a major step in our fight to prevent DVT and the many unnecessary deaths each year caused by blood clots after joint replacement surgery. We now have a better treatment that reduces the risk of bleeding, and a patient no longer has to endure injections by needle," said Gary Raskob, Ph.D., a lead researcher on the project and dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Public Health.
Apixaban is now being studied in Phase III clinical trials and, if approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, will be an important option for patients having joint replacement surgery.
The research appears this week in the New England Journal of Medicine.