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Intermountain Study Finds 75 Percent of Patients Taking Popular Blood-Thinners On Wrong Dose

Cardiology researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute have found that 75 percent of patients taking two common blood-thinning drugs may be receiving the wrong dosage levels.  The Utah researchers presented their findings today (TUES) at an American Heart Association conference in Los Angeles. 

Millions of Americans with coronary artery disease take one of two drugs — clopidogrel or prasugrel - to prevent blood clots that can cause a stroke or heart attack.  But in a new study involving more than 520 patients, researchers found that the standard dose is not effective for everyone. Dr. Brent Muhlestein is a cardiologist at Intermountain Medical Center.  He told KUER that every patient processes these drugs differently and each one has a distinct appropriate dosage. 

“What we discovered was actually surprising - which is that only 25 percent of the patients who got clopidogrel or prasugrel were actually in the target range; 75 percent were out of range,” said Muhlestein.  

An overdose or underdose puts patients at risk for serious problems like uncontrolled bleeding, blood clot, or heart attack.  There is a simple test that can tell doctors an appropriate dose for each patient, but Muhlestein said it hasn’t been thoroughly studied.

“So, do we wait until somebody pays for a large outcomes trial, or do we act on what seems to be completely self-evident  - that you want the patients to be in the range of the drug that has been shown in observational studies to be good for them?” asked Muhlestein.

Intermountain Medical Center is using the test for their patients, and monitoring the results.

Andrea Smardon is new at KUER, but she has worked in public broadcasting for more than a decade. Most recently, she worked as a reporter and news announcer for WGBH radio. While in Boston, she produced stories for Morning Edition, Marketplace Money, and The World. Her print work was published in The Boston Globe and Prior to that, she worked at Seattleââ
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