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Improving outcomes for patients with blood clots

Kaiser Permanente and UCSF researchers find new type of blood thinner improves treatment for venous thromboembolism

Patients with blood clots who are on blood thinners for more than 6 months have a lower risk of developing a new blood clot if they are treated with direct oral anticoagulants rather than with the drug warfarin, according to a new study led by Kaiser Permanente and UCSF researchers.

Alan Go, MD

The retrospective study, published in JAMA Network Open, included 18,495 adults diagnosed with a blood clot in their vein — venous thromboembolism — between 2010 and 2018 who were treated with blood thinners for at least six months.

The study found that the patients on direct oral anticoagulants, such as dabigatran (Pradaxa) and factor Xa inhibitors (xabans), had a lower risk of developing a new blood clot than patients on the drug warfarin. Risk of hospitalization for hemorrhage or death was the same for patients taking direct oral anticoagulants or warfarin.

Blood clots affect between 300,000 to 600,000 people in the U.S. each year. They are typically treated with blood thinners for a period of 3 to 6 months. Current guidelines suggest extending this treatment window for some patients. The direct oral anticoagulants are recommended for the initial treatment phase but less is known about which anticoagulants are preferred for extended treatment.

“These findings highlight the value of observational studies among large, diverse, real-world populations to complement evidence from randomized controlled trials of venous thromboembolism prevention strategies in more selected individuals,” said senior author Alan S. Go, MD, a research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research.

Read the UCSF press release. 


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