Doctors prescribe wrong drug doses for heart disease

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STARTLING evidence has emerged that millions of people with coronary artery disease could be at increased risk for serious problems like uncontrolled bleeding or developing blood clots because the drugs they are taking as prescribed by their doctors are the wrong dose for their bodies.

Findings just released at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2012 in Los Angeles, about 75 percent of heart disease patients taking two common blood-thinning drugs appear to be receiving the wrong dosage levels.

The specific drugs in question are clopidogrel (Plavix) and prasugrel (Effient). Both are commonly prescribed to prevent harmful blood clots that can cause a stroke or heart attack. However,  at too small of a dose, the drugs don’t prevent clots and come with side effects which can include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhoea, vision changes and seizures).

At too high levels, they can cause life-threatening internal bleeding.  In fact, the current guidelines recommend that all patients should take the same standardized dose of one of these pills. But in their study researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute found the one-size-fits-all dose is not only ineffective for huge numbers of patients, it may be dangerous.

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