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Concept: Warfarin


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


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


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


Persicarin and isorhamnetin were isolated from Oenanthe javanica and their anticoagulant activities were examined by monitoring activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), prothrombin time (PT), and the activities of cell-based thrombin and activated factor X (FXa). In addition, the effects of persicarin and isorhamnetin on the expressions of plasminogen activator inhibitor type 1 (PAI-1) and tissue-type plasminogen activator (t-PA) were tested in tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) activated human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs). The data obtained showed that persicarin and isorhamnetin both prolonged aPTT and PT significantly and inhibited the activities of thrombin and FXa. In addition, they both inhibited the generations of thrombin and FXa in HUVECs. In accordance with these anticoagulant activities, persicarin and isorhamnetin prolonged in vivo bleeding time and inhibited TNF-α induced PAI-1 production. Furthermore, PAI-1/t-PA ratio was significantly decreased by persicarin. Interestingly, the anticoagulant and profibrinolytic effects of persicarin were greater than those of isorhamnetin, which suggest that the sulfonate group of persicarin positively regulates its anticoagulatory function. Accordingly, our results suggest persicarin and isorhamnetin possess antithrombotic activities and that they could provide bases for the development of new anticoagulant agents.

Concepts: Coagulation, Fibrinolysis, Warfarin, Tissue plasminogen activator, Blood tests, Thrombin, Prothrombin time, Partial thromboplastin time


Background Idarucizumab, a monoclonal antibody fragment, was developed to reverse the anticoagulant effect of dabigatran. Methods We performed a multicenter, prospective, open-label study to determine whether 5 g of intravenous idarucizumab would be able to reverse the anticoagulant effect of dabigatran in patients who had uncontrolled bleeding (group A) or were about to undergo 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 diluted thrombin time or ecarin clotting time. Secondary end points included the restoration of hemostasis and safety measures. Results A total of 503 patients were enrolled: 301 in group A, and 202 in group B. The median maximum percentage reversal of dabigatran was 100% (95% confidence interval, 100 to 100), on the basis of either the diluted thrombin time or the ecarin clotting time. In group A, 137 patients (45.5%) presented with gastrointestinal bleeding and 98 (32.6%) presented with intracranial hemorrhage; among the patients who could be assessed, the median time to the cessation of bleeding was 2.5 hours. In group B, the median time to the initiation of the intended procedure was 1.6 hours; periprocedural hemostasis was assessed as normal in 93.4% of the patients, mildly abnormal in 5.1%, and moderately abnormal in 1.5%. At 90 days, thrombotic events had occurred in 6.3% of the patients in group A and in 7.4% in group B, and the mortality rate was 18.8% and 18.9%, respectively. There were no serious adverse safety signals. Conclusions In emergency situations, idarucizumab rapidly, durably, and safely reversed the anticoagulant effect of dabigatran. (Funded by Boehringer Ingelheim; RE-VERSE AD number, NCT02104947 .).

Concepts: Blood, Warfarin, Hemostasis, Bleeding, Normal distribution, Anticoagulant, Safety, Boehringer Ingelheim


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


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


Several new oral anticoagulants have been studied in the past decade, and have now started to enter the market. These drugs are reported to be as effective as, or more effective than warfarin. In Australia, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban. The use of these newer anticoagulants is likely to increase in time, and it is important for dentists to have a sound understanding of the mechanisms of action, reversal strategies, and management guidelines for patients taking oral anticoagulants. This article discusses the process of coagulation, available anticoagulants and their monitoring and reversal, and provides clinical advice on the management of patients on anticoagulants who require dental treatment. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Dabigatran, Anticoagulants, Vitamin K