Direct oral anticoagulants: new drugs and new concepts.
Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) are approved for multiple thromboembolic disorders and provide advantages over existing agents. As with all anticoagulants, management protocols for the eventuality of bleeding are important. Randomized phase III studies generally show that DOACs have a similar risk of clinically relevant bleeding compared with standard anticoagulants, with reductions in major bleeding in some cases. This may be particularly important in patients with atrial fibrillation, for whom the rate of intracranial hemorrhage was approximately halved with DOACs compared with warfarin. Conversely, the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding may be increased. Specific patient characteristics, such as renal impairment, comedications, and particular aspects of each drug, including the proportion eliminated by the kidneys, must be taken into account when assessing the risk of bleeding. Although routine coagulation monitoring of DOACs is not required, it may be useful under some circumstances. Of the traditional clotting assays, a sensitive and calibrated prothrombin time may be useful for detecting the presence or absence of clinically relevant factor Xa inhibitor concentrations (rivaroxaban or apixaban), but specific anti-factor Xa assays can measure drug levels quantitatively. For dabigatran, the results of an activated partial thromboplastin time test may exclude a clinically relevant pharmacodynamic effect, but a calibrated dilute thrombin time assay can be used for quantification of drug levels. In the event of mild or moderate bleeding, normal hemostatic support measures are recommended. For life-threatening bleeding, use of nonspecific prohemostatic agents may be considered, although clinical evidence is scarce. Specific antidotes are in development.
Levy, JH; Spyropoulos, AC; Samama, CM; Douketis, J
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