Can a Single Measurement of Apixaban Levels Identify Patients at Risk of Overexposure? A Prospective Cohort Study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Abstract Background Patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) are frequently treated with apixaban 2.5-mg twice daily (BID) off-label, presumably to reduce the bleeding risk. However, this approach has the potential to increase the risk of ischemic stroke. If a single measurement could reliably identify patients with high drug levels, the increased stroke risk may be mitigated by confining off-label dose reduction to such patients. Objectives This study aimed to determine whether a single high apixaban level is predictive of a similarly high level when the test is repeated in 2 months. Methods In this prospective cohort study of clinic patients receiving apixaban 5-mg BID for AF or venous thromboembolism, peak and trough apixaban levels were measured using the STA-Liquid anti-Xa assay at baseline and 2 months. We calculated the proportions of patients with levels that remained in the upper quintile. Results Of 100 enrolled patients, 82 came for a second visit, 55 of whom were treated with apixaban 5-mg BID. Seven (63.6%, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 35.4–84.8%) and nine (81.8%, 95% CI: 52.3–94.9%) of 11 patients with a baseline trough and peak level in the upper quintile, respectively, had a subsequent level that remained within this range. Only one (9.1%, 95% CI: 1.6–37.7%) patient had a subsequent level that fell just lower than the median. Conclusion The trough and peak levels of apixaban in patients who have a high level on a single occasion, usually remain high when the assay is repeated in 2 months. Accordingly, the finding of a high apixaban level in patients deemed to be at high risk of bleeding, allows physicians contemplating off-label use of the 2.5-mg BID dose to limit its use to selected patients who are less likely to be exposed to an increased risk of thrombosis.


  • de Vries, Tim AC
  • Hirsh, Jack
  • Bhagirath, Vinai C
  • Ginsberg, Jeffrey S
  • Pisters, Ron
  • Hemels, Martin EW
  • de Groot, Joris R
  • Eikelboom, John W
  • Chan Wan Kai, Noel

publication date

  • January 2022