The first one-a-day pill for stroke prevention and irregular heartbeat has been given the green light by the NHS.
Rivaroxabin, also known as ‘Xarelto', a drug designed to combat blood clotting, has been approved by health professionals and is the first once-a-day anti-coagulent drug since the development of warfarin – a drug based on rat poison.
Warfarin has been prescribed to stroke and atrial fibrillation (AF) sufferers since the 1950s, but is known to react badly with certain foods. It has also proven difficult to control, meaning not all AF patients can take it.
Experts believe that rivaroxabin is just as effective as warfarin – but has fewer side effects and is safer for widespread use.
Leading health experts claim the new drug could benefit up to 900,000 AF and stroke patients in the UK and is predicted to ‘shake up’ the stroke prevention services.
Atrial fibrillation, a heart condition that causes the upper chambers of the heart to beat faster than normal, is triggered by high blood pressure, an overactive thyroid and excessive alcohol consumption.
It’s believed that it causes over 12,000 stroke-related deaths a year as it allows blood to pool and clot – the main cause of a stroke.
It’s estimated that there are 1.2m people with AF, but unfortunately many sufferers remain undiagnosed.
However, experts hope the new cost-effective drug (it costs £2 a day, £64 for a month's supply), could potentially prevent up to 5,000 strokes a year.
Trudie Lobban from the Atrial Fibrillation Association said in a statement: “Today's recommendation is welcome news for thousands who struggle with existing treatment.
“The increase in treatment choice significantly increases the likelihood patients will receive therapy that is both manageable and effective, which could have a significant impact on quality of life.”