Now, blood clots `could be stopped without needles`

Washington: Blood clots that kill hundreds of people worldwide each year after joint replacement surgery could be stopped without needles, says a new study.

Blood clots, known as deep-vein thrombosis, affect the large veins in the lower leg and thigh. If the clot breaks free and moves through the bloodstream, it can lodge in lungs, a condition known as pulmonary embolism which is often fatal.

Treating blood clots with syringes after joint surgery is painful and can cause bleeding. Now, an international team has found a better way of preventing deadly blood clots with-out increasing the risk of bleeding, the `New England Journal of Medicine` reported.

In a double-blind study of more than 3,000 patients, researchers tested a new type of anti-clotting drug called Apixaban, which is an oral medication. The medicine proved just as effective at preventing blood clots and reduced the risk of bleeding by half. Most importantly for patient convenience, it was much easier to use, they said.

"This is a major step in our fight to prevent DVT and the many unnecessary deaths each year caused by blood clots after joint replacement surgery.

"We now have a better treatment that reduces the risk of bleeding, and a patient no longer has to endure injections by needle," team leader Gary Raskob of University of Oklahoma said.

According to the researchers, as the population ages, the number of hip and knee replacements will skyrocket in the coming years, so an easier to use and safe preventive medicine is essential.

Apixaban is now being studied in Phase III clinical trials and if approved by the US Food and Drug Administration, it will be an important option for patients having the joint replacement surgery.

Bureau Report