Drugs & Aging

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 13–25 | Cite as

Haemorrhagic Complications of Vitamin K Antagonists in the Elderly

Risk Factors and Management
  • Eric Pautas
  • Isabelle Gouin-Thibault
  • Matthieu Debray
  • Pascale Gaussem
  • Virginie Siguret
Review Article


In patients >75 years of age, the two main indications for oral anticoagulant therapy with vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) are treatment of venous thromboembolic disease and prevention of systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. In both indications, a target International Normalized Ratio of 2.5 (range 2.0–3.0) is recommended. Bleeding is the adverse effect feared by physicians that most limits the use of VKAs in older frail patients. In this paper, we discuss (i) the risk of VKA-related bleeding with advancing age; (ii) the severity of bleeding complications and particularly the risk of intracranial haemorrhage in older patients; (iii) the risk factors for bleeding related to patient characteristics; and (iv) the risk factors or determinants for bleeding related to treatment variables (warfarin induction and maintenance administration, instability of anticoagulation, poor compliance and patient’s education level, and concomitant use of drugs). Avoiding over-anticoagulation and/or reducing periods of overdosing in the course of oral anticoagulant treatment with tailored monitoring may help to minimise the risk of bleeding in older patients.


Atrial Fibrillation Warfarin International Normalize Ratio Major Bleeding Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eric Pautas
    • 1
  • Isabelle Gouin-Thibault
    • 2
  • Matthieu Debray
    • 3
  • Pascale Gaussem
    • 4
    • 5
  • Virginie Siguret
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Unité de Gériatrie AiguëHôpital Charles Foix (AP-HP)Ivry/SeineFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire d’HématologieHôpital Charles Foix (AP-HP)Ivry-sur-Seine cedexFrance
  3. 3.Service de GériatrieCentre Hospitalier Régional d’AnnecyAnnecyFrance
  4. 4.Service d’Hématologie biologiqueHôpital Européen Georges PompidouParisFrance
  5. 5.INSERM U.765 - Université Paris VParisFrance

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