Evolving Treatments for Arterial and Venous Thrombosis
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The direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) represent a major advance in oral anticoagulant therapy and have replaced the vitamin K antagonists as the preferred treatment for many indications. By simplifying long-term anticoagulant therapy and improving its safety, the DOACs have the potential to reduce the global burden of thrombosis. Postmarketing studies suggest that the favorable results achieved with DOACs in the randomized controlled trials can be readily translated into practice, but highlight the need for appropriate patient, drug and dose selection, and careful follow-up. Leveraging on their success to date, ongoing studies are assessing the utility of DOACs for the prevention of thrombosis in patients with embolic stroke of unknown source, heart failure, coronary artery disease, peripheral artery disease, antiphospholipid syndrome, and cancer. The purpose of this article is to (1) review the pharmacology of the DOACs, (2) describe the advantages of the DOACs over vitamin K antagonists, (3) summarize the experience with the DOACs in established indications, (4) highlight current challenges and limitations, (5) highlight potential new indications; and (6) identify future directions for anticoagulant therapy.
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