Journal of Thrombosis and Thrombolysis

, Volume 42, Issue 4, pp 573–578 | Cite as

Direct oral anticoagulant use and the incidence of bleeding in the very elderly with atrial fibrillation



Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a major risk factor for stroke in the elderly population. The use of anticoagulation in patients with AF greatly reduces the risk for stroke, but results in an increased risk of bleeding. Over the past several years, direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban) have been used in place of warfarin for stroke prevention in AF. We conducted a retrospective cohort study to assess the safety of DOACs in very elderly patients (75+) managed in a health care system encompassing both community and academic settings. We found that 36 % of patients had moderate to severe renal failure (estimated glomerular filtration rate <59 ml/min/1.73 m2) at the time of DOAC initiation. 142 patients were followed for a mean of 2.56 years, and five experienced a major bleeding episode while on anticoagulation, for a rate of 1.37 per 100 person years. All major bleeding episodes were associated with a decline in GFR compared to baseline. There were 12 non-major bleeding episodes reported. HAS-BLED scores were similar for those patients who experienced bleeding complications compared to those who did not. 21 % of patients were prescribed an inappropriately low dose of DOAC based on approved recommendations. DOACs appear to be a safe form of anticoagulation in very elderly patients with AF. However, the decline in GFR among patients with major bleeding highlights the importance of routine renal function monitoring.


Direct oral anticoagulants Rivaroxaban Dabigatran Apixaban Elderly Bleeding Atrial fibrillation 



Funding for Fatima Khan, M.B.B.S., was supported by National Institutes of Health T32 Hematology research training Grant (5T32HL00706). Research reported in this publication was supported in part by Grant number UL1TR000114 from the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. The clinical data was provided by the University of Minnesota’s Informatics Consulting Service.

Compliance with ethical standards

Financial disclosures and conflicts of interest

All authors declare no conflicting financial interest.

Ethical approval

This study was conducted with the approval of the University of Minnesota Institutional Review Board.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Hematology, Oncology and TransplantationUniversity of Minnesota Medical SchoolMinneapolisUSA
  2. 2.Department of MedicineUniversity of Minnesota Medical SchoolMinneapolisUSA

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