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Witt DM, Delate T, Garcia DA, et al. Risk of Thromboembolism, Recurrent Hemorrhage, and Death After Warfarin Therapy Interruption for Gastrointestinal Tract Bleeding. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(19):1484–1491. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.4261
Author Affiliations: Clinical Pharmacy Research Team (Drs Witt and Delate) and Clinical Pharmacy Anticoagulation & Anemia Service (Dr Clark), Kaiser Permanente Colorado, Aurora; University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Denver (Drs Witt, Delate, and Clark); Department of Internal Medicine, University of New Mexico School of Medicine, Albuquerque (Dr Garcia); Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts (Dr Hylek); Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Insubria, Varese, Italy (Drs Ageno and Dentali); and Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (Dr Crowther).
Background Patients who not only survive a warfarin-associated gastrointestinal tract bleeding (GIB) event but also have an ongoing risk for thromboembolism present 2 clinical dilemmas: whether and when to resume anticoagulation. The objective of this study was to determine the incidence of thrombosis, recurrent GIB, and death, as well as the time to resumption of anticoagulant therapy, during the 90 days following a GIB event.
Methods In this retrospective, cohort study using administrative and clinical databases, patients experiencing GIB during warfarin therapy were categorized according to whether they resumed warfarin therapy after GIB and followed up for 90 days. Variables describing the management and severity of the index GIB were also collected. Kaplan-Meier curves were constructed to estimate the survival function of thrombosis, recurrent GIB, and death between the “resumed warfarin therapy” and “did not resume warfarin therapy” groups, with Cox proportional hazards modeling to adjust for potentially confounding factors.
Results There were 442 patients with warfarin-associated index GIB included in the analyses. Following the index GIB, 260 patients (58.8%) resumed warfarin therapy. Warfarin therapy resumption after the index GIB was associated with a lower adjusted risk for thrombosis (hazard ratio [HR], 0.05; 95% CI, 0.01-0.58) and death (HR, 0.31; 95% CI, 0.15-0.62), without significantly increasing the risk for recurrent GIB (HR, 1.32; 95% CI, 0.50-3.57).
Conclusions The decision to not resume warfarin therapy in the 90 days following a GIB event is associated with increased risk for thrombosis and death. For many patients who have experienced warfarin-associated GIB, the benefits of resuming anticoagulant therapy will outweigh the risks.
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