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Bleeding risk and reversal strategies for old and new anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents.

The most important adverse effect of antithrombotic treatment is the occurrence of bleeding. In the case of severe bleeding in a patient who uses anticoagulant agents or when a patient on anticoagulants needs to undergo an urgent invasive procedure, it may be useful to reverse anticoagulant treatment. Conventional anticoagulants such as vitamin K antagonists may be neutralized by administration of vitamin K or prothrombin complex concentrates, whereas heparin and heparin derivatives can be counteracted by protamine sulphate. The anti-hemostatic effect of aspirin and other antiplatelet strategies can be corrected by the administration of platelet concentrate and/or desmopressin, if needed. Recently, a new generation of anticoagulants with a greater specificity towards activated coagulation factors as well as new antiplatelet agents have been introduced and these drugs show promising results in clinical studies. A limitation of these new agents may be the lack of an appropriate strategy to reverse the effect if a bleeding event occurs, although experimental studies show hopeful results for some of these agents.

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