What Is Xarelto, and What Is It Used For?

Thursday 30 May 2019
5 minute(s) read

Medically reviewed by

Stefan Reiner, PharmD, RPh
on 1 September 2020

Table of Contents

I. What does Xarelto treat?

a. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

b. Pulmonary Embolism (PE)

c. Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib)

II. How does Xarelto work?

III. Advantages of Xarelto

a. Xarelto vs. Warfarin

b. Xarelto vs. Eliquis and Pradaxa

IV. Xarelto Cautions

a. Side Effects

b. Overdose

b. Things to Avoid

Xarelto (generic name: rivaroxabanis a medication found in the form of an oral tablet, it belongs to a family of medications that are called factor Xa inhibitors, but it is also known as a blood thinner. [1]

What does Xarelto treat?

Rivaroxaban is typically used to treat deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). By lowering the risk of developing a blood clot, it is also used to prevent strokes in patients who have atrial fibrillation (A-fib) who don’t have a heart valve problem. [2] Generic Xarelto, known as rivaroxaban, is now available at Canada Pharmacy Depot at discounted prices.

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

Deep vein thrombosis is when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in the body, usually in the lower body. This can happen if a vein is damaged, especially through either injury or after surgery in the hip or legs.

If a blood clot in a deep vein breaks free and travels through the bloodstream to the lungs, this can cause a pulmonary embolism, which is highly dangerous. [3] If a blood clot gets to the brain, a stroke may occur. [4]

Close-up of fingers being wrapped in white bandage.

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism is defined as a sudden blockage of a blood vessel to the lungs. A PE can lead to permanent lung damage, very low oxygen levels in the blood, and organ damage from lack of oxygen. PE can even be life-threatening if the clot is large or if there is more than one clot. [5]

Atrial Fibrillation (A-Fib)

Atrial fibrillation (also known as A-fib) is a heart rhythm disorder where your heart beats faster than it should. A-fib happens when the heart’s upper (atria) and lower (ventricle) chambers don’t co-operate: the ventricles do not fill fully with blood or do not pump enough blood throughout the body. This lack of oxygen circulating throughout the body causes the patient to experience fatigue or dizziness or to suffer chest pains and palpitations. But sometimes, atrial fibrillation shows no symptoms at all. [6]

How Does Xarelto Work?

Xarelto belongs to a family of medications known as blood thinners or anticoagulants. They interrupt the clotting mechanisms in your blood, making your blood clot more slowly.

Clotting is a complex process that requires a variety of substances called clotting factors produced in the liver, which work with platelets. One of the most important factors is factor Xa. Rivaroxaban blocks factor Xa from working properly, preventing the blood from clotting as easily. [7]

A collection of storage tubes for drawn blood with different coloured caps (blue, black, red, purple, gray) on a teal background.

Advantages of Xarelto

Xarelto is a newer anticoagulant. An older anticoagulant that is often compared to Xarelto is warfarin, sometimes known by the brand name Coumadin.

Xarelto vs. Warfarin

Xarelto and warfarin treat similar things but work quite differently. Xarelto only blocks factor Xa, but warfarin affects at least six factors as well as vitamin K.[8]

The most significant advantage of Xarelto over warfarin is that Xarelto does not require regular blood testing or significant dietary restrictions. However, warfarin treatment may require regular blood testing and adjusting one’s diet. People taking warfarin should talk to their doctors about eating leafy green vegetables high in vitamin K, as well as grapefruit juice. [9]

So, Xarelto may be more advantageous simply because it’s more convenient.

Xarelto vs. Eliquis and Pradaxa

Eliquis (apixaban) and Pradaxa (dabigatran) are similar drugs to Xarelto in that they all belong to a drug family known as direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC). According to one recent study in 2018, no significant differences in effectiveness were found between these medications in risk of stroke or systemic embolism in non-valvular A-fib patients. [10]

Xarelto Cautions

There are benefits and risks to almost every medical treatment, but if your doctor prescribed you Xarelto, it means they’ve determined that the benefits of Xarelto outweigh the risks.

Discuss possible side effects and adverse drug interactions with your doctor, and be sure to ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Large pile of clear orange prescription pill bottles.

Side Effects

Rivaroxaban can cause uncomfortable side effects, such as muscle spasms. However, if you notice any of the following symptoms, the U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends finding medical help immediately:

  • Black, bloody, or tarry stools and/or discolored (brown or pink) urine
  • Vomit that resembles coffee grounds
  • Rashes, itching, and/or hives
  • Weakness, fatigue
  • Excessive bleeding, such as heavy menstruation, frequent nosebleeds, and bleeding gums
  • Pain in the limbs
  • Breathing and/or swallowing difficulties
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness, fainting
  • Pain or swelling at wounds
  • Blurry vision[10]

Please note that this list of side effects is not exhaustive. Other side effects may happen to you. If in doubt, call a medical professional.


Signs you may have taken too much rivaroxaban include:

  • Unusual bruising and/or bleeding
  • Bloody urine and/or bloody, black, or tarry stools
  • Vomit that looks like coffee grounds[11]

Again, these symptoms are not exhaustive. To prevent children and pets from accidentally ingesting this medicine, keep your pills in child-proof containers and out of reach.

Things to Avoid

Sometimes, different medications are dangerous if they interact with each other within the body. Before starting any new medications such as Xarelto, make sure you tell your doctor all other medications you use. Tell your doctor about:

  • Other prescription medications you take
  • Over-the-counter medications you take
  • Recreational drugs you may consume
  • Vitamins, supplements, and herbs you use

Xarelto Infographic

DISCLAIMER: The content in this article is intended for informational purposes only. This website does not provide medical advice. In all circumstances, you should always seek the advice of your physician and/or other qualified health professionals(s) for drug, medical condition, or treatment advice. The content provided on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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