NHS patients in Scotland will be the first in the UK to benefit from a new drug to treat potentially life-threatening blood clots.
The Scottish Medicines Consortium has passed the drug rivaroxaban for use in the treatment and prevention of pulmonary embolisms.
The pulmonary artery is the blood vessel that transports blood from the heart to the lungs. When the blood leaves the heart it is low in oxygen and needs to reach the lungs to pick up oxygen, and a blood clot can prevent this.
The main symptoms include chest pain, shortness of breath, coughing and feeling faint.
Rivaroxaban has also been licensed for the prevention of recurrent deep vein thrombosis, where a blood clot forms in a vein, usually the leg, blocking the flow of blood.
The conditions are associated with more than 12,500 hospital admissions in Scotland each year and at least 1,365 deaths, according to pharmaceuticals firm Bayer which produces rivaroxaban under the name Xarelto.
Patients with pulmonary embolisms are commonly treated with a combination of anticoagulant drugs and require strict monitoring.
Adrian Brady, a consultant cardiologist at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, said: "With the new drug there is no need for frequent clinic visits and blood tests, nor strict diet restrictions and regimes. It is hoped this shift from heparin-warfarin to the patient-centred single drug method will benefit patients' quality of life, reduce our reliance on regular coagulation monitoring and reduce the length of hospital stays, thus reducing waiting times and freeing up hospital capacities."
Beverley Hunt, medical director of thrombosis charity Lifeblood, said: "Today's SMC announcement on rivaroxaban will broaden patient choice to include a new therapy to treat and prevent recurrence of these serious conditions. The availability of this oral anticoagulant which does not need daily injections or frequent monitoring as occurs with current treatment, will allow patients the option of a different quality of life."
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) will assess rivaroxaban for use in England and Wales in May this year.