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Concept: Warfarin


Background Although many patients with venous thromboembolism require extended treatment, it is uncertain whether it is better to use full- or lower-intensity anticoagulation therapy or aspirin. Methods In this randomized, double-blind, phase 3 study, we assigned 3396 patients with venous thromboembolism to receive either once-daily rivaroxaban (at doses of 20 mg or 10 mg) or 100 mg of aspirin. All the study patients had completed 6 to 12 months of anticoagulation therapy and were in equipoise regarding the need for continued anticoagulation. Study drugs were administered for up to 12 months. The primary efficacy outcome was symptomatic recurrent fatal or nonfatal venous thromboembolism, and the principal safety outcome was major bleeding. Results A total of 3365 patients were included in the intention-to-treat analyses (median treatment duration, 351 days). The primary efficacy outcome occurred in 17 of 1107 patients (1.5%) receiving 20 mg of rivaroxaban and in 13 of 1127 patients (1.2%) receiving 10 mg of rivaroxaban, as compared with 50 of 1131 patients (4.4%) receiving aspirin (hazard ratio for 20 mg of rivaroxaban vs. aspirin, 0.34; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.20 to 0.59; hazard ratio for 10 mg of rivaroxaban vs. aspirin, 0.26; 95% CI, 0.14 to 0.47; P<0.001 for both comparisons). Rates of major bleeding were 0.5% in the group receiving 20 mg of rivaroxaban, 0.4% in the group receiving 10 mg of rivaroxaban, and 0.3% in the aspirin group; the rates of clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding were 2.7%, 2.0%, and 1.8%, respectively. The incidence of adverse events was similar in all three groups. Conclusions Among patients with venous thromboembolism in equipoise for continued anticoagulation, the risk of a recurrent event was significantly lower with rivaroxaban at either a treatment dose (20 mg) or a prophylactic dose (10 mg) than with aspirin, without a significant increase in bleeding rates. (Funded by Bayer Pharmaceuticals; EINSTEIN CHOICE number, NCT02064439 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Blood, Stroke, Thrombosis, Warfarin, Dose, Aspirin, Bayer


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


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


The underlying cause of thrombosis in a large protein C (PC) deficient Vermont kindred appears to be multicausal and not explained by PC deficiency alone. We evaluated the contribution of coagulation factors to thrombin generation in this population utilizing a mathematical model that incorporates a mechanistic description of the PC pathway. Thrombin generation profiles for each individual were generated with and without the contribution of the PC pathway. Parameters that describe thrombin generation: maximum level (MaxL) and rate (MaxR), their respective times (TMaxL, TMaxR), area under the curve (AUC) and clotting time (CT) were examined in individuals ± PC mutation, ± prothrombin G20210A polymorphism and ± thrombosis history (DVT or PE). This family (n = 364) is shifted towards greater thrombin generation relative to the mean physiologic control. When this family was analyzed with the PC pathway, our results showed that: carriers of the PC mutation (n = 81) had higher MaxL and MaxR and greater AUC (all p<0.001) than non-carriers (n = 283); and individuals with a DVT and/or PE history (n = 13) had higher MaxL (p = 0.005) and greater AUC (p<0.001) than individuals without a thrombosis history (n = 351). These differences were further stratified by gender, with women in all categories generating more thrombin than males. These results show that all individuals within this family with or without PC deficiency have an increased baseline procoagulant potential reflective of increased thrombin generation. In addition, variations within the plasma composition of each individual can further segregate out increased procoagulant phenotypes, with gender-associated plasma compositional differences playing a large role.

Concepts: Blood, Coagulation, Platelet, Warfarin, Protein C, Factor V, Thrombin, Thrombophilia


BACKGROUND: Laboratory tests to assess novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) are under evaluation. Routine monitoring is unnecessary, but under special circumstances bioactivity assessment becomes crucial. We analyzed the effects of NOACs on coagulation tests and the availability of specific assays at different laboratories.METHODS: Plasma samples spiked with dabigatran (Dabi; 120 and 300 μg/L) or rivaroxaban (Riva; 60, 146, and 305 μg/L) were sent to 115 and 38 European laboratories, respectively. International normalized ratio (INR) and activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT) were analyzed for all samples; thrombin time (TT) was analyzed specifically for Dabi and calibrated anti-activated factor X (anti-Xa) activity for Riva. We compared the results with patient samples.RESULTS: Results of Dabi samples were reported by 73 laboratories (13 INR and 9 APTT reagents) and Riva samples by 22 laboratories (5 INR and 4 APTT reagents). Both NOACs increased INR values; the increase was modest, albeit larger, for Dabi, with higher CV, especially with Quick (vs Owren) methods. Both NOACs dose-dependently prolonged the APTT. Again, the prolongation and CVs were larger for Dabi. The INR and APTT results varied reagent-dependently (P < 0.005), with less prolongation in patient samples. TT results (Dabi) and calibrated anti-Xa results (Riva) were reported by only 11 and 8 laboratories, respectively.CONCLUSIONS: The screening tests INR and APTT are suboptimal in assessing NOACs, having high reagent dependence and low sensitivity and specificity. They may provide information, if laboratories recognize their limitations. The variation will likely increase and the sensitivity differ in clinical samples. Specific assays measure NOACs accurately; however, few laboratories applied them.

Concepts: Positive predictive value, Type I and type II errors, Sensitivity and specificity, Coagulation, Warfarin, Prothrombin time, Partial thromboplastin time


Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) using the Watchman device was FDA-approved as a stroke prevention alternative to warfarin for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. However, clinical decision-making is confounded by the fact that while LAAC avoids the anticoagulant-related lifetime risk of bleeding, implantation is associated with up-front complications. Thus, enthusiasm for LAAC as a treatment option has been appropriately tempered, particularly as the therapy is introduced beyond the clinical trial sites into general clinical practice.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Atrial flutter, Clinical trial protocol, Left atrial appendage occlusion, Left atrial appendage