Sounds like 'RIV-a-ROX-a-ban'

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

Type of medicine

Also called

  • Belongs to a groups of medicines known as anticoagulants that prevent blood clots
  • Xarelto®

What is rivaroxaban?

  • Rivaroxaban 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 helps lowers your risk of stroke.
  • It 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 at risk of clots if you have just had hip or knee surgery. 
  • Rivaroxaban works in the blood to stop the action of thrombin, which causes clotting. 
  • Rivaroxaban comes as tablets. 


  • The dose of rivaroxaban will be different, for different people, depending on its use:
    • If it is used to stop a blood clot from forming, it is taken once a day.
    • If it is used to dissolve (treat) a blood clot, it is taken twice a day for 3 weeks, and then once a day.
  • If you have had knee or hip surgery, you will need to take rivaroxaban for 2 to 5 weeks. If you are taking it for other reasons, you will need to take it for longer.
  • Rivaroxaban tablets are available in different strengths – your doctor or pharmacist will tell you which strength of tablet is right for you. 
  • Always take your rivaroxaban exactly as your doctor has told you. The pharmacy label will tell you how much rivaroxaban to take, how often to take it and any special instructions. 
  • Don't stop taking rivaroxaban 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 rivaroxaban

  • Swallow your tablets with a glass of water. 
  • Rivaroxaban is best taken with food although the lower strength tablet (10 milligrams), can be taken without food. For the higher strength tablets (15 milligrams and 20 milligrams), more of the dose is absorbed when there is food in your stomach.    
  • If you can't swallow the tablets, you can crush the tablet and mix it with a little water or apple puree, just before taking it.
  • Take your rivaroxaban dose at the same times each day. 
  • If you forget to take your tablet, take it as soon as you remember. But, if it is nearly time for your next tablet, just take the next tablet at the right time. Do not take double the number of tablets – this increases your risk of bleeding.
  • It is important to let health professionals know that you are taking rivaroxaban such as your dentist, your pharmacist, your podiatrist or your nurse. You may need to stop using this medicine for several days before having surgery, dental appointments or medical tests.

Possible side effects

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

Side effects What should I do?
  • Nausea (feeling sick)
  • Indigestion
  • Tummy cramps
  • Headache
  • These may go away with time.
  • Tell your doctor if troublesome.
  • Bruising easily
  • Minor bleeding such as nosebleed, or bleeding from little cuts.   
  • If this gets worse, tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine.   
  • Signs of serious bleeding such as coughing up blood, blood in the stools or black, tarry stools (poo), blood in the urine (wee), or brown-coloured urine, bleeding from the gums, cuts or nosebleeds, heavy periods and feeling weak, tired, or dizzy.
  • Tell your doctor immediately or ring HealthLine.


Rivaroxaban should not be taken with some other medications and herbal supplements, so always check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting rivaroxaban or before starting any new medicines.  Also check with your 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 rivaroxaban may increase your risk of bleeding and should be avoided. 

Learn more

The following links provide further information on rivaroxaban. Be aware that websites from other countries may contain information that differs from New Zealand recommendations.

rivaroxaban New Zealand Formulary Patient Information
Xarelto® Medsafe Consumer Information Sheet (NZ)
Rivaroxaban Patient Info, UK

Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 17 Oct 2016