Practical Considerations for the Nonvitamin K Antagonist Oral Anticoagulants

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Objectives: Dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban are nonvitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) approved for stroke prevention in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF). Phase-3 clinical trials demonstrated NOACs were as effective as warfarin in the prevention of stroke or systemic embolism and associated with decreased incidences of intracranial bleeding. Additionally, NOACs provide quicker onset of action, simpler dosing, more predictable pharmacokinetic profiles, and decreased food and drug interactions compared with warfarin. Despite the advantages of NOACs, the lack of knowledge may limit their use in clinical practice. Methods: A search was performed on the terms ‘atrial fibrillation' and ‘dabigatran', ‘apixaban', ‘edoxaban', or ‘rivaroxaban' to identify relevant papers; large randomized clinical trials, meta-analyses, and treatment guideline recommendations were given preference. Searches to identify registries, treatment guidelines, and meta-analyses relevant to patient subgroups were also employed. Results: Dosing recommendations, initiation of treatment, and applications in patients who undergo NVAF procedures, have mechanical heart valves, or experience other cardiovascular conditions such as myocardial infarction, previous stroke, and valvular heart disease are summarized. The NOAC-specific reversal approaches are also discussed. Conclusions: Several important factors should be considered regarding the adequate use of NOACs, especially in patients with renal impairment or cardiovascular conditions other than NVAF.

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