Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have been reported to be potentially associated with an increased risk of bleeding. A meta-analysis of observational studies was conducted to quantify this risk.
Case-control and cohort studies investigating bleeding risk under SSRI therapy were retrieved by searching the Medline, Pascal, Google Scholar and Scopus databases. Case-control studies were included if they reported bleeding incidents with and without the use of SSRIs and cohort studies were included if they reported the rate of bleeds among SSRI users and non-users. The main outcome was severe bleeding, whatever the site. Only data concerning SSRI belonging to the ATC class N06AB were used. For both case-control and cohort studies, we recorded the adjusted effect estimates and their 95% confidence intervals (CI). Pooled adjusted odds ratio (OR) estimates were computed for case-control and cohort studies using an inverse-variance model.
Meta-analysis of the adjusted ORs of 42 observational studies showed a significant association between SSRI use and the risk of bleeding [OR 1.41 (95% CI 1.27–1.57), random effect model, p < 0.0001]. The association was found for the 31 case-control studies (1,255,073 patients), with an increased risk of 41% of bleeding [OR 1.41 (95% CI 1.25–1.60)], as well as for the 11 cohort studies including 187,956 patients [OR 1.36 (95% CI 1.12–1.64)]. Subgroup analyses showed that the association remained constant whatever the characteristics of studies.
This meta-analysis shows an increased risk of bleeding of at least 36% (from 12% to 64%) based on the high-level of observational studies with SSRIs use.