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Neth J Med. 2010 Feb;68(2):68-76.

Bleeding in patients using new anticoagulants or antiplatelet agents: risk factors and management.

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  • 1Department of Vascular Medicine, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.


The most important adverse effect of antithrombotic treatment is the occurrence of bleeding. In case of serious or even life-threatening bleeding in a patient who uses anticoagulant agents or when patient on anticoagulants needs to undergo an urgent invasive procedure, anticoagulant treatment can be reversed by various specific strategies. Heparin and heparin derivatives can be counteracted by protamine sulphate, whereas the anticoagulant effect of vitamin K antagonists may be neutralised by administration of vitamin K or prothrombin complex concentrates. The antihaemostatic effect of aspirin and other antiplatelet strategies can be corrected by the administration of platelet concentrate and/or desmopressin, if needed. Recently, a new generation of anticoagulants with a greater specificity towards activated coagulation factors has been introduced and most of these agents are currently being evaluated in clinical studies, showing promising results. The new-generation anticoagulants include specific inhibitors of factor IIa or factor Xa (including pentasaccharides) and antiplatelet agents belonging to the class of thienopyridine derivatives. A limitation of the new class of anti-IIa and anti-Xa agents may be the lack of an appropriate strategy to reverse the effect if a bleeding event occurs, although in some cases the administration of recombinant factor VIIa may be an option.

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