What are the types of novel anticoagulants to treat atrial fibrillation?

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Douglas E. Severance, MD
Family Medicine
Atrial fibrillation (also called A Fib) is a common heart rhythm abnormality that can result in an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is blocked by a blood clot. Traditionally, an important treatment for atrial fibrillation is a blood thinner such as warfarin to help prevent clots from forming.

Novel anticoagulants are an alternative to warfarin. There are two main types of novel anticoagulants that help prevent blood clots. One type is called Direct Thrombin Inhibitors, or DTIs. Drugs in this category work by blocking or inhibiting one substance that's involved in clotting. This substance is the “clotting factor” known as thrombin. Another category of novel anticoagulants is called the Factor Xa Inhibitors (Xa is read as 10A). Factor Xa is involved in the complicated series of steps needed to form a normal blood clot. By inhibiting this factor, blood clots cannot form as usual. The advantage of having different types of novel anticoagulants available is that if you try one and if you have an allergic reaction or it does not work for you, you still have another option to try.