Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Anticoagulant


Background Apixaban, an oral factor Xa inhibitor that can be administered in a simple, fixed-dose regimen, may be an option for the extended treatment of venous thromboembolism. Methods In this randomized, double-blind study, we compared two doses of apixaban (2.5 mg and 5 mg, twice daily) with placebo in patients with venous thromboembolism who had completed 6 to 12 months of anticoagulation therapy and for whom there was clinical equipoise regarding the continuation or cessation of anticoagulation therapy. The study drugs were administered for 12 months. Results A total of 2486 patients underwent randomization, of whom 2482 were included in the intention-to-treat analyses. Symptomatic recurrent venous thromboembolism or death from venous thromboembolism occurred in 73 of the 829 patients (8.8%) who were receiving placebo, as compared with 14 of the 840 patients (1.7%) who were receiving 2.5 mg of apixaban (a difference of 7.2 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], 5.0 to 9.3) and 14 of the 813 patients (1.7%) who were receiving 5 mg of apixaban (a difference of 7.0 percentage points; 95% CI, 4.9 to 9.1) (P<0.001 for both comparisons). The rates of major bleeding were 0.5% in the placebo group, 0.2% in the 2.5-mg apixaban group, and 0.1% in the 5-mg apixaban group. The rates of clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding were 2.3% in the placebo group, 3.0% in the 2.5-mg apixaban group, and 4.2% in the 5-mg apixaban group. The rate of death from any cause was 1.7% in the placebo group, as compared with 0.8% in the 2.5-mg apixaban group and 0.5% in the 5-mg apixaban group. Conclusions Extended anticoagulation with apixaban at either a treatment dose (5 mg) or a thromboprophylactic dose (2.5 mg) reduced the risk of recurrent venous thromboembolism without increasing the rate of major bleeding. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer; AMPLIFY-EXT number, NCT00633893 .).

Concepts: Blood, Thrombosis, Clopidogrel, Warfarin, Hematology, Anticoagulant, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Apixaban


Background It is uncertain whether bridging anticoagulation is necessary for patients with atrial fibrillation who need an interruption in warfarin treatment for an elective operation or other elective invasive procedure. We hypothesized that forgoing bridging anticoagulation would be noninferior to bridging with low-molecular-weight heparin for the prevention of perioperative arterial thromboembolism and would be superior to bridging with respect to major bleeding. Methods We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which, after perioperative interruption of warfarin therapy, patients were randomly assigned to receive bridging anticoagulation therapy with low-molecular-weight heparin (100 IU of dalteparin per kilogram of body weight) or matching placebo administered subcutaneously twice daily, from 3 days before the procedure until 24 hours before the procedure and then for 5 to 10 days after the procedure. Warfarin treatment was stopped 5 days before the procedure and was resumed within 24 hours after the procedure. Follow-up of patients continued for 30 days after the procedure. The primary outcomes were arterial thromboembolism (stroke, systemic embolism, or transient ischemic attack) and major bleeding. Results In total, 1884 patients were enrolled, with 950 assigned to receive no bridging therapy and 934 assigned to receive bridging therapy. The incidence of arterial thromboembolism was 0.4% in the no-bridging group and 0.3% in the bridging group (risk difference, 0.1 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.6 to 0.8; P=0.01 for noninferiority). The incidence of major bleeding was 1.3% in the no-bridging group and 3.2% in the bridging group (relative risk, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.20 to 0.78; P=0.005 for superiority). Conclusions In patients with atrial fibrillation who had warfarin treatment interrupted for an elective operation or other elective invasive procedure, forgoing bridging anticoagulation was noninferior to perioperative bridging with low-molecular-weight heparin for the prevention of arterial thromboembolism and decreased the risk of major bleeding. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health; BRIDGE number, NCT00786474 .).

Concepts: Blood, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Pulmonary embolism, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Heparin


Atrial fibrillation is a common arrhythmia in heart failure and a risk factor for stroke. Risk assessment tools can assist clinicians with decision making in the allocation of thromboprophylaxis. This review provides an overview of current validated risk assessment tools for atrial fibrillation and emphasizes the importance of tailoring individual risk and the importance of weighing the benefits of treatment. Further, this review provides details of innovative and patient-centered methods for ensuring optimal adherence to prescribed therapy. Prior to initiating oral anticoagulant therapy, a comprehensive risk assessment should include evaluation of associated cardiogeriatric conditions, potential for adherence to prescribed therapy, frailty, and functional and cognitive ability.

Concepts: Decision making, Evaluation, Heart, Risk, Atrial fibrillation, Cognition, Decision theory, Anticoagulant


Oral anticoagulant therapy is used to prevent thrombosis in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), venous thrombosis and prosthetic heart valves. The introduction of new therapies emphasizes the need to discern the best practice for the patients remaining on warfarin treatment. This study compares patient characteristics and therapeutic control in two settings managing warfarin treatment: Swedish primary health care centers (PHCC) and specialized anticoagulation clinics (ACC).

Concepts: Medicine, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Prothrombin time


INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES: Left atrial appendage closure can be an attractive option for patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation and a contraindication to oral anticoagulants, provided that satisfactory results can be achieved during implantation and follow-up. METHODS: Thirty-five consecutive patients, not eligible for randomized trials with oral anticoagulants, had an Amplatzer occlusion device implanted under general anesthesia. After the first 5 patients, 3-dimensional imaging was incorporated. The results of the implantation and the follow-up were analyzed over a 1-year period. RESULTS: The mean age was 74.65 (7.61) years, with a CHADS(2) score of 2.41 (1.53) and a CHA(2)DS(2)-VASc score of 3.17 (1.60). Implantation failed in 1 patient and 5 needed a change in the selected plug size. There were no cardiac complications during the implantation or hospital stay. There was 1 vascular complication (arteriovenous fistula). Transesophageal echocardiography monitoring was performed at 24h, 1, 3, 6 and 12 months and we found 5 thrombi which were resolved with heparin. In the follow-up period of 21.14 (10.09) months, 3 patients aged>80 years died, none of them due to heart problems, and one transient ischemic stroke without further consequences. CONCLUSIONS: Left atrial appendage closure by an experienced operator can be a treatment option with few complications and with efficient results at>1 year in reducing thromboembolic and hemorrhagic complications, even in very high-risk groups. Full English text available

Concepts: Cardiology, Heart, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Left atrial appendage


Atrial fibrillation, the commonest cardiac arrhythmia, predisposes to thrombus formation and consequently increases risk of ischaemic stroke. Recent years have seen approval of a number of novel oral anticoagulants. Nevertheless, warfarin and aspirin remain the mainstays of therapy. It is widely appreciated that both these agents increase the likelihood of bleeding: there is a popular conception that this risk is greater with warfarin. In fact, well-managed warfarin therapy (INR 2-3) has little effect on bleeding risk and is twice as effective as aspirin at preventing stroke. Patients with atrial fibrillation and a further risk factor for stroke (CHA2DS2-VASc >0) should therefore either receive warfarin or a novel oral agent. The remainder who are at the very lowest risk of stroke are better not prescribed antithrombotic therapy. For stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation; aspirin is rarely the right choice.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Warfarin, Thrombus, Anticoagulant, Heparin


Effective treatment of venous thromboembolism (VTE) strikes a balance between prevention of recurrence and bleeding complications. The current standard of care is heparin followed by a vitamin K antagonist such as warfarin. However, this option is not without its limitations, as the anticoagulant effect of warfarin is associated with high inter- and intra-patient variability and patients must be regularly monitored to ensure that anticoagulation is within the narrow target therapeutic range. Several novel oral anticoagulant agents are in the advanced stages of development for VTE treatment, some of which are given after an initial period of heparin treatment, in line with current practice, while others switch from high to low doses after the initial phase of treatment. In this review we assess the critical considerations for treating VTE in light of emerging clinical data for new oral agents and discuss the merits of novel treatment regimens for patients who have experienced an episode of deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary embolism.

Concepts: Stroke, Thrombosis, Pulmonary embolism, Warfarin, Vein, Low molecular weight heparin, Anticoagulant, Deep vein thrombosis


Background Specific reversal agents for non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants are lacking. Idarucizumab, an antibody fragment, was developed to reverse the anticoagulant effects of dabigatran. Methods We undertook this prospective cohort study to determine the safety of 5 g of intravenous idarucizumab and its capacity to reverse the anticoagulant effects of dabigatran in patients who had serious bleeding (group A) or required an urgent procedure (group B). The primary end point was the maximum percentage reversal of the anticoagulant effect of dabigatran within 4 hours after the administration of idarucizumab, on the basis of the determination at a central laboratory of the dilute thrombin time or ecarin clotting time. A key secondary end point was the restoration of hemostasis. Results This interim analysis included 90 patients who received idarucizumab (51 patients in group A and 39 in group B). Among 68 patients with an elevated dilute thrombin time and 81 with an elevated ecarin clotting time at baseline, the median maximum percentage reversal was 100% (95% confidence interval, 100 to 100). Idarucizumab normalized the test results in 88 to 98% of the patients, an effect that was evident within minutes. Concentrations of unbound dabigatran remained below 20 ng per milliliter at 24 hours in 79% of the patients. Among 35 patients in group A who could be assessed, hemostasis, as determined by local investigators, was restored at a median of 11.4 hours. Among 36 patients in group B who underwent a procedure, normal intraoperative hemostasis was reported in 33, and mildly or moderately abnormal hemostasis was reported in 2 patients and 1 patient, respectively. One thrombotic event occurred within 72 hours after idarucizumab administration in a patient in whom anticoagulants had not been reinitiated. Conclusions Idarucizumab completely reversed the anticoagulant effect of dabigatran within minutes. (Funded by Boehringer Ingelheim; RE-VERSE AD number, NCT02104947 .).

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Normal distribution, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Dabigatran, Anticoagulants, Direct thrombin inhibitor


We sought to describe the management of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) in Europe after the release of the 2010 AF Guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology.METHODS AND RESULTS: The PREFER in AF registry enrolled consecutive patients with AF from January 2012 to January 2013 in 461 centres in seven European countries. Seven thousand two hundred and forty-three evaluable patients were enrolled, aged 71.5 ± 11 years, 60.1% male, CHA2DS2VASc score 3.4 ± 1.8 (mean ± standard deviation). Thirty per cent patients had paroxysmal, 24.0% had persistent, 7.2% had long-standing persistent, and 38.8% had permanent AF. Oral anticoagulation was used in the majority of patients: 4799 patients (66.3%) received a vitamin K antagonist (VKA) as mono-therapy, 720 patients a combination of VKA and antiplatelet agents (9.9%), 442 patients (6.1%) a new oral anticoagulant drugs (NOAC). Antiplatelet agents alone were given to 808 patients (11.2%), no antithrombotic therapy to 474 patients (6.5%). Of 7034 evaluable patients, 5530 (78.6%) patients were adequately rate controlled (mean heart rate 60-100 bpm). Half of the patients (50.7%) received rhythm control therapy by electrical cardioversion (18.1%), pharmacological cardioversion (19.5%), antiarrhythmic drugs (amiodarone 24.1%, flecainide or propafenone 13.5%, sotalol 5.5%, dronedarone 4.0%), and catheter ablation (5.0%).CONCLUSION: The management of AF patients in 2012 has adapted to recent evidence and guideline recommendations. Oral anticoagulant therapy with VKA (majority) or NOACs is given to over 80% of eligible patients, including those at risk for bleeding. Rate is often adequately controlled, and rhythm control therapy is widely used.

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Standard deviation, Anticoagulant, Amiodarone, Cardioversion, Vitamin K, Flecainide


The diagnostic work-up for heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) can take several days. Consequently patients may be speculatively switched onto replacement anticoagulant therapy before a diagnosis is confirmed. On-demand immunoassay diagnostic testing enables timely treatment decisions, based on test results.

Concepts: Medical terms, Diagnosis, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Thrombocytopenia, Immunoassay, Medical test, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia