Eliquis: Everything You Need To Know About It

What is Eliquis?

Eliquis is a prescription medication that's intended for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AFib) and the post-surgical treatment of patients recovering from knee/hip surgeries. Apixaban is the drug's main active ingredient. There are very few available generic versions of Eliquis as most of them are yet to be approved. The ones that have been approved so far include Elixaban, Antixaban and Lupin.

What Eliquis is used for?

Eliquis is an anticoagulant meaning that it helps to prevent blood from clotting as fast normal. Eliquis does so by inhibiting the functions of a substance present in the blood known as 'Factor Xa' which plays a major role in blood clotting.

Eliquis drug's anticoagulation factor makes it ideal for patients who are:

  1. Ailing from atrial fibrillation, a medical condition that causes the heart to beat irregularly. The irregular beating of the heart increases the likelihood of the formation of blood clots in the body which could otherwise lead to a stroke.
  2. Preparing or recovering from knee replacement or hip replacement surgeries since it helps in the prevention of:
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a condition that usually manifests itself as blood clots forming in the leg.
  • Pulmonary embolism (PE), development of a blood clot in the lung.
  1. Ailing from DVT or PE. The drug helps in the treatment of Deep Vein Thrombosis and Pulmonary Embolism and also reduces the risk of them reoccurring.

How should Eliquis be used?

Eliquis comes in a tablet form that should be taken orally. Eliquis's normally taken twice a day and can be taken with food or without it. The precise directions of how Eliquis medication should be taken defers depending on the condition that it is intended for. In the case of:

  1. Post-surgical treatment after a knee or hip replacement surgery, the first dose should be taken within 12 to 24 hours after the procedure. Taking of the tablets will then continue for 12 days in the case of a knee replacement surgery and 35 days in the case of a hip replacement surgery.
  2. Atrial Fibrillation, the recommended dose is 5 mg tablets that should be taken orally for as long as the doctor prescribes. The dosage may be halved to 2.5 mg for patients who have at least 3 of the following characteristics:
  • Are 80 years and above
  • Weigh 60 kg or less
  • Have serum creatinine levels of 1.5mg/dl and above.
  1. DVT and PE patients are normally prescribed with a daily recommended dosage of 10mg of Eliquis which should be taken twice every day for 7 days. After the 7 days, the dosage is then halved to 5mg.
  2. To prevent DVT and PE from recurring in future, the recommended dosage of Eliquis is 2.5 mg twice daily. This should continue consistently for at least 6 months.

Patients intending to or currently on Eliquis medication are expected to observe the following precautionary measures:

  • The tablets should be taken at around the same time every day.
  • A double dose shouldn't be taken in the case of a missed dose. Instead, the dose should be taken as soon as possible.
  • Notify the doctor about any other medication or nutritional supplements that you're currently taking.
  • Inform the doctor if you have any heavy bleeding in your body which can't be stopped or if you have a heart valve that's artificial.
  • If you have any sort of surgery scheduled in the near future, including dental surgery, make sure to tell your doctor about it. Your doctor may offer some advice on whether you should ahead with Eliquis treatment or not.
  • Notify the doctor if you're currently pregnant, planning on becoming pregnant or if you're nursing.
  • Do not stop taking Eliquis unless your doctor directs you to. This is because doing so may put you at a heightened risk of developing serious blood clots.
  • Inform your doctor if you have a pre-existing condition or have ever been treated for kidney related problems, spinal cord related problems, liver conditions and high blood pressure.
  • Limit the intake of alcohol since it's daily intake while on Eliquis has been linked to a heightened risk of stomach bleeding. You should therefore consult your doctor on much alcohol intake will be safe during the treatment.
  • Be extra cautious when handling sharp objects while on Eliquis.
  • Contact your doctor immediately if you experience any kind of head injury as a result of a fall or any other accident. You may need to undergo a check up to ascertain that there's no hidden injury as a result of the injury.

What are the side effects associated with Eliquis?

Eliquis medication has been linked to quite a number of side effects such as:

  1. Heavy or unusual bleeding Eliquis can end up affecting blood clotting proteins more than is intended resulting in serious bleeding. This could manifest itself as persistent nosebleeds, prolonged menstrual flow, coughing up blood, bloody vomits, unusual bruising, dark urine, bloody stools or bleeding from injection sites.
  2. Risk of paralysis People taking Eliquis as a post spinal procedural treatment are likely to experience some bleeding in the affected area. This could result in short term or permanent paralysis. The risk of this happening could be heightened if:
  • The spine is deformed.
  • Have undergone prior spinal cord procedures such as epidural catheter placement or spinal puncture.
  • You're taking medication that can induce bleeding such as blood thinning drugs, NSAIDS like Ibuprofen or Clopidogrel.

Other Eliquis side effects that have been reported include:

  • Tightness or pain in the chest
  • Difficulty breathing or wheezing
  • Rash
  • Swelling or pain in the joints
  • Signs of anaphylaxis such as trouble breathing, hives or swelling of the lips, throat, tongue or face
  • Severe headache
  • Dizziness or fainting

A number of medicines have also been found to increase the side effects of Eliquis. They include:

  • Medication intended for the treatment of fungal infections such as Ketoconazole, Posaconazole, Itraconazole e.t.c
  • HIV/AIDS medications such as Ritonavir, Lopinavir
  • Other anticoagulation medicines like Enoxaparin
  • High blood pressure or heart medication such as Diltiazem
  • Antidepressant medicines such as Fluoxetine, Desvenlafaxine, Venlafaxine
  • Anti-inflammatory or pain medication like Naproxen or Acetylsalicylic acid
  • Medicines intended for the treatment of epilepsy or seizures such as Carbamazepine, Phenytoin
  • St John's Wort, a supplement that's used for the treatment of depression
  • Medication used in the treatment of tuberculosis and other infections such as Rifampicin

You should immediately consult your doctor if you experience any of the above symptoms or any others which you suspect could be as a result of Eliquis medication.

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