Effective management of venous thromboembolism in the community: non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants
Department of Haematological Medicine, King's Thrombosis Centre, King's College Hospital, London, UK
Abstract: Anticoagulation therapy is essential for the effective treatment and secondary prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE). For many years, anticoagulation for acute VTE was limited to the use of initial parenteral heparin, overlapping with and followed by a vitamin K antagonist. Although highly effective, this regimen has several limitations and is particularly challenging when given in an ambulatory setting. Current treatment pathways for most patients with deep-vein thrombosis typically involve initial hospital or community-based ambulatory care with subsequent follow-up in a secondary care setting. With the introduction of non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) into routine clinical practice, it is now possible for the initial acute management of patients with deep-vein thrombosis to be undertaken by primary care. As hospital admissions associated with VTE become shorter, primary care will play an increasingly important role in the long-term management of these patients. Although the NOACs can potentially simplify patient management and improve clinical outcomes, primary care physicians may be less familiar with these new treatments compared with traditional therapy. To assist primary care physicians in further understanding the role of the NOACs, this article outlines the main differences between NOACs and traditional anticoagulation therapy and discusses the benefit–risk profile of the different NOACs in the treatment and secondary prevention of recurrent VTE. Key considerations for the use of NOACs in the primary care setting are highlighted, including dose transition, risk assessment and follow-up, duration of anticoagulant therapy, how to minimize bleeding risks, and the importance of patient education and counseling.
Keywords: venous thromboembolism, oral anticoagulant, prevention, treatment, primary care, community
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