Direct Oral Anticoagulant- or Warfarin-Related Major Bleeding: Characteristics, Reversal Strategies, and Outcomes From a Multicenter Observational Study

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Abstract

Background

Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have expanded the armamentarium for antithrombotic therapy. Although DOAC-related major bleeding was associated with favorable outcomes compared with warfarin in clinical trials, warfarin effects were reversed in < 40% of cases, raising concerns about the generalizability of this finding.

Methods

Consecutive patients ≥ 66 years presented to five tertiary care hospitals across three cities in Ontario, Canada from October 2010 to March 2015 with diagnoses that included hemorrhage. Charts were screened for association with DOAC or warfarin use; eligible cases were abstracted and linked to administrative databases.

Results

Among 19,061 records screened, 2,002 (460 receiving DOAC, 1,542 receiving warfarin) were eligible. Reversal agents (72.9% vitamin K, 40.7% prothrombin complex concentrates) were frequently used in warfarin bleeding events. Red blood cell transfusions occurred more often in DOAC bleeding events than in warfarin events (52.0% vs 39.5%; adjusted relative risk [aRR], 1.32; 95% CI, 1.19-2.47). However, units of blood products transfused were not different between the two groups. Thirty-four DOAC cases (7.4%) received activated prothrombin complex concentrates or recombinant factor VIIa. In-hospital mortality was lower following DOAC bleeding events (9.8% vs 15.2%; aRR, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.49-0.89), although differences in 30-day mortality did not reach statistical significance (12.6% vs 16.3%; aRR, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.61-1.03).

Conclusions

In this unselected cohort of patients with oral anticoagulant-related hemorrhage with high rates of warfarin reversal, in-hospital mortality was lower among DOAC-associated bleeding events. These findings support the safety of DOACs in routine care and present useful baseline measures for evaluations of DOAC-specific reversal agents.

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