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Intern Emerg Med. 2009 Apr;4(2):137-45. doi: 10.1007/s11739-008-0201-8. Epub 2008 Nov 12.

Emergency reversal of antithrombotic treatment.

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Department of Medicine (F-4), Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, 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 a 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 neutralized by administration of vitamin K or prothrombin complex concentrates. The anti-hemostatic effect of aspirin and other anti-platelet strategies can be corrected by the administration of platelet concentrate 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 presently being evaluated in clinical studies. The new generation anticoagulants include specific inhibitors of factor IIa, factor Xa (including pentasaccharides) and agents that interfere with tissue factor activity. A limitation of this new class of anticoagulants 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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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