Dabigatran (Pradaxa)

What is dabigatran?


Dabigatran etexilate (Pradaxa®) is a drug that blocks the activity of the clotting factor called thrombin. This causes the blood to take longer to form a clot. It can also prevent a clot from getting bigger.


Why do I need a blood thinner?


Dabigatran is used to prevent stroke in patients with a heart rhythm called atrial fibrillation. Dabigatran can also be used to treat or prevent blood clots or for other conditions specified by your doctor.


How should I take dabigatran?


The usual dose of dabigatran is 150 mg twice daily. It should be taken about 12 hours apart. Patients with decreased kidney function or those taking interacting medications should take a lower dose of 75 mg twice daily. Swallow the capsule whole. Do not chew, open, or crush. It may be taken with or without food. Take with food if it causes an upset stomach. Do not stop taking dabigatran unless instructed by your doctor.


What happens if I miss a dose?


If you miss a dose of dabigatran, take it as soon as you remember. Skip the dose if it is less than six hours until your next dose. Never double up on a dose to make up for a missed dose. Never change your dose or stop taking dabigatran unless your doctor has told you to do so. 


Will I need routine blood checks?


You will not need regular blood tests to monitor dabigatran. You will need to have your kidney, liver and blood counts monitored once to twice a year. Based on the results your dabigatran dose may need to be changed or the drug may need to be stopped. 


How should I store dabigatran?


Dabigatran should be stored in the original container (blister package or bottle) at room temperature. Avoid excessive heat or moisture (not in a bathroom). Loose dabigatran capsules must not be stored in a medication box or organizer. Only capsules that are in the blister packs can be stored in a pill box. Dabigatran is good for four months after the bottle is opened. If you have not used the capsules within four months, you must dispose of the remaining capsules and start a new bottle.


Possible Side Effects of Dabigatran


These are less serious side effects. Call your doctor if these symptoms persist or worsen:

  • Upset stomach
  • Heartburn
  • Mild abdominal pain 

Minor bleeding may also occur while on dabigatran:

  • Bruising more than usual
  • Occasional nose bleeds
  • Prolonged menstrual bleeding (heavier than normal)
  • Prolonged bleeding after minor cuts 

If you have any question about whether your bleeding is a concern call your doctor. If you have a serious fall, hit your head, or if you are having any of these major bleeding side effects, call your doctor or go to the Emergency Room right away:

  • Any bleeding that lasts for more than 10 minutes
  • Red, black or tarry stool
  • Vomiting or coughing up blood
  • Red or dark brown urine
  • Severe headache or stomach ache 

Surgical, Dental or Other Medical Procedures


Tell all members of your health care team (surgeons, dentist, etc.) that you are taking a blood thinner. You may need to stop taking it before certain procedures. Be sure to tell your doctor if you were told to stop or hold your dabigatran. They may need to change you to another type of blood thinner before your procedure.


Interactions with Other Medicines


Ask your doctor or pharmacist before starting any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins and herbal products. The dose of dabigatran may need to be adjusted if an interacting medicine is started. 




If you think you are or may become pregnant, tell your doctor right away. It is unknown how dabigatran will affect a fetus. If you become pregnant, your doctor will instruct you about your treatment options.