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Discontinuing warfarin therapy indefinitely after GI bleeding assoc with worse outcomes

Clinical Question:
In patients with warfarin-associated gastrointestinal bleeds, does discontinuing warfarin therapy after the index bleeding event affect outcomes?

Bottom Line:
For patients using warfarin therapy who experience gastrointestinal (GI) bleeds, discontinuing anticoagulation with warfarin altogether is associated with an increased risk of thrombosis and death. (LOE = 2b)

Witt DM, Delate T, Garcia DA, et al. Risk of thrombembolism, recurrent hemorrhage, and death after warfarin therapy interruption for gastrointestinal tract bleeding. Arch Intern Med 2012;Sep 17:[Epub ahead of print].  [PMID:22987143]

Study Design:
Cohort (retrospective)



Inpatient (any location) with outpatient follow-up

Using administrative and clinical databases, these investigators identified 442 patients who were hospitalized for a GI bleed and were taking warfarin prior to the index bleed. The group was further divided into those who continued or resumed warfarin (n = 260) and those who discontinued warfarin (n = 182) following the bleed.The mean age of both groups was 74 years and the most common indication for warfarin therapy was prevention of atrial fibrillation-related embolism. Patients in the group that discontinued warfarin were older (78 years vs 72 years; P < .001) and were more likely to have an unidentified source of GI bleed (27% vs 17%; P = .01); patients who resumed therapy were more likely to have a prosthetic heart valve indication for warfarin (15% vs 1%; P < .001) and a GI bleed localized to the rectum and anus area (20% vs 7%; P < .001). The authors used propensity scoring to adjust for such differences. After adjusting for variables, including age, comorbidities, and propensity scores, continuing/resuming warfarin therapy was associated with a decreased risk of thrombosis (5.5% vs 0.4%; hazard ratio [HR] = 0.05; 95% CI, 0.01-0.58) at 90 days, as well as a lower mortality rate (HR = 0.31; 0.15-0.62). There was no association with an increased risk of recurrent GI bleed in the group that continued or resumed therapy.


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