A new oral anticoagulant drug preventing blood clots could be a safer alternative to warfarin, according Dr Aida Lai, of the North Bristol NHS Trust.

The drugs — Apixaban, Dabigatran and Rivaroxaban — offer surgeons alternatives to warfarin, which has been used for six decades. Warfarin is blamed for serious side-effects and requires frequent monitoring to reduce the risk of bleeding.

Dr Lai published her research in the BJS (British Journal of Surgery) giving an overview of the clinical trials and recommendations of the new agents. As part of her research she read the medical literature and analysed studies published between January 2000-January 2014 that reported on the use of new oral anticoagulant drugs.

“It is anticipated that in the near future these drugs would replace warfarin to a large extent,” Dr Lai said. “Therefore our article is highly relevant to surgeons and any medical professional treating patients on these drugs.”

The review notes that because the drugs are eliminated by the kidneys, they require dose reductions dependent on a patient’s kidney function. Also, because the three drugs have somewhat different properties, one of the drugs may be better suited to a particular patient than the others.

Traditionally, Warfarin has been the drug of choice to control blood clots in a variety of patients, including people with certain types of irregular heartbeats, people with prosthetic heart valves, and people who have suffered heart attacks.