Management of Bleeding With Non-Vitamin K Antagonist Oral Anticoagulants in the Era of Specific Reversal Agents

Christian T Ruff, Robert P Giugliano, Elliott M Antman
Circulation 2016 July 19, 134 (3): 248-61
Vitamin K antagonists are commonly used by clinicians to provide anticoagulation to patients who have or are at risk of having thrombotic events. In addition to familiarity with the dosing and monitoring of vitamin K antagonists, clinicians are accustomed to using vitamin K if there is a need to reverse the anticoagulant effect of vitamin K antagonists. There are now 4 new non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) that are attractive alternatives to vitamin K antagonists. Despite similar or lower rates of serious bleeding with NOACs in comparison with warfarin, there is a pressing need for strategies to manage bleeding when it does occur with NOACs and to reverse the pharmacological effect of these agents if needed. Important steps in minimizing bleeding risks with NOACs include dose adjustment of the agents in the setting of renal dysfunction and avoidance of the concomitant use of other antithrombotic agents if feasible. Laboratory measurement of the anticoagulant effect of NOACs is best accomplished with specialized assays, although some of the more widely available coagulation tests can provide information that is potentially useful to clinicians. Nonspecific hemostatic agents such as prothrombin complex concentrates and recombinant factor VIIa can be used to reverse the effect of NOACs. More specific reversing agents include the approved humanized monoclonal antibody fragment idarucizumab for reversing the effects of dabigatran, the investigational factor Xa decoy andexanet alfa, and the synthetic small molecule ciraparantag. Both andexanet and ciraparantag have been reported to reverse the effects of the anti-Xa NOACs (rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban), and a number of other anticoagulant agents in common clinical use, as well.

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