Bleeding risks associated with vitamin K antagonists
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Vitamin K antagonists are widely used for the prevention of stroke due to atrial fibrillation, treatment and secondary prevention of venous thromboembolism, prevention of valvular thromboembolism in patients with prosthetic heart valves, and secondary prevention of acute myocardial infarction. The most common adverse event experienced by patients receiving anticoagulant therapy is major bleeding. The incidence of major bleeding in patients receiving long-term anticoagulation with a vitamin K antagonist in contemporary studies is 1-3% per year. To determine if the benefits of anticoagulant therapy outweigh the risk of bleeding in an individual patient, physicians must be aware of the risk factors associated with major bleeding. This narrative review will provide an overview of the incidence of major bleeding in patients receiving therapeutic anticoagulant therapy with vitamin K antagonists, discuss the risk factors for bleeding, and outline the most commonly used clinical prediction rules for bleeding.
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