Sounds like 'da-be-ga-tran'

Easy-to-read medicine information about dabigatran – what it is, how to take dabigatran safely and possible side effects.

Type of medicine Also called
  • Belongs to a groups of medicines known as anticoagulants that prevent blood clots
  • Pradaxa®

What is dabigatran?

  • Dabigatran is used to stop blood clots from forming.
  • You are at risk of blood clots forming if you have atrial fibrillation (irregular heart beat). Stopping blood clots lowers your risk of stroke.
  • Dabigatran is also used to treat (dissolve) clots that have already formed in the legs (deep vein thrombosis) or in the lung (pulmonary embolism). You are also at risk of clots forming in the leg or lung, if you have just had hip or knee surgery. 
  • Dabigatran works in the blood to block the action of thrombin, and slows or stops blood clots. It belongs to a group of medicines called anticoagulants. Read more about anticoagulants


  • The dose of dabigatran is different for different people, depending on its use.
  • Always take your dabigatran exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label will tell you how much dabigatran to take, how often to take it, and any special instructions. 
  • Don't stop taking dabigatran until your doctor tells you to, since stopping too early can put you at greater risk for getting blood clots or stroke.

How to take dabigatran

  • Swallow the capsules whole with a full glass of water so the capsule doesn't get stuck in your throat. 
  • Do not crush, chew or open the capsules. This will release all the medication at once, and increase the risk of side effects.
  • You can have dabigatran with or without food.
  • Take dabigatran at the same times each day. 
  • Limit alcohol while you are taking dabigatran.
  • If you forget to take a dose, and your next dose is due in less than 6 hours, skip the missed dose and take your next dose as normal. If there are more than 6 hours until your next dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember.
  • DO NOT take double the dose of dabigatran - this increases your risk of bleeding.  

Special instructions

  • Extra care is needed when taking dabigatran because it can cause bleeding. 
  • Avoid new tattoos and piercings or having body massages while taking dabigatran; these things may cause bruising and bleeding.
  • Do not store dabigatran in a pill box or medication reminder box. It must be kept tightly closed in the original package to protect it from moisture.
  • It is important to let health professionals know that you are taking dabigatran such as your dentist, your pharmacist, your podiatrist, your nurse. You may need to stop using this medicine for several days before having surgery, dental appointments or medical tests. 

Precautions – before taking dabigatran

  • Do you have any problems with the way your kidney or liver works?
  • Are you pregnant or breastfeeding?
  • Have you ever had a stomach ulcer or bleeding in the brain?

If so, it’s important that you tell your doctor before you start taking dabigatran. Sometimes a medicine isn’t suitable for a person with certain conditions, or taking other medicines or it can only be used with extra care.

Possible side effects

Like all medicines, dabigatran can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them.  

Side effects What should I do?
  • Nausea (feeling sick), indigestion, tummy pain, headaches
  • These may go away with time.
  • Try taking dabigatran with food.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome or persistent.
  • Easy bruising or minor bleeding (such as nosebleed, bleeding from cuts)  
  • If this gets worse, tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine.   
  • Signs of serious bleeding such as coughing up blood, blood in stools (poo) or black, tarry stools, blood in urine (wee), or brown-coloured urine, bleeding from gums, cuts or nosebleeds, very heavy periods and feeling weak, tired, or dizzy.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine.


Dabigatran should not be taken with some other medications and herbal supplements, so always check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting dabigatran or before starting any new medicines. Also check with a pharmacist before taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatories such as diclofenac (e.g. Voltaren Rapid), ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen), naproxen (e.g. Naprogesic). Taking these together with dabigatran may increase your risk of bleeding and should be avoided.

Learn more

Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet Pradaxa

New Zealand Formulary Patient Information: Dabigatran

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 04 Nov 2016