Lawsuits mount over new blood thinner

New and improved? When it comes to blood thinners, they got the "new" part right... but they're definitely not improved.

Pradaxa, first in a new generation of blood thinners, was supposed to be safer than warfarin -- a blood thinner so dangerous it's been used as rat poison over the years.

As you can imagine, patients couldn't wait to get off warfarin -- so Pradaxa sales quickly shot past the $1 billion mark, making it the newest blockbuster drug. And now, it looks like it might be on the wrong end of the next blockbuster lawsuit, too -- because Pradaxa has been linked to thousands of serious problems, including bleeding problems, and hundreds of deaths.

Last year, Pradaxa was responsible for more reports of adverse events than any other drug -- including 542 deaths, 2,367 cases of hemorrhaging, 644 strokes, and 291 cases of acute renal failure.

If that's not enough, it was also a suspect in 15 cases of liver failure, according to the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

That's quite a long list of problems for a drug that's barely been on the market for two years -- and since up to 99 percent of all drug side effects go unreported, the real numbers could be much higher.

As a result, there are attorneys ready to make a career off this. According to USA Today, one major firm has 70 lawyers devoted to Pradaxa litigation

It's tough to choose between rat poison and becoming the next potential client in a lawsuit, which is why it's important to know about preventative approaches that can thin the blood naturally.

And it starts with learning why your blood has thickened in the first place.

In many cases, I've found that thick blood is the result of excess levels of a protein called fibrinogen. One way to reduce those levels is with fish oil, as the omega-3 fatty acids can help thin the blood. The enzyme nattokinase is another excellent natural blood thinner.

Don't fly solo on this one, and don't start swapping fish oil for meds on your own as there are certain conditions that require medication to thin the blood.

Work with a holistic doctor who can run some tests to help determine why your blood thickened and then help you figure out the best -- and, just as importantly, safest -- natural solutions.