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New oral anticoagulants: their advantages and disadvantages compared with vitamin K antagonists in the prevention and treatment of patients with thromboembolic events

Authors Mekaj Y, Mekaj A, Duci S, Miftari E

Received 8 March 2015

Accepted for publication 8 May 2015

Published 24 June 2015 Volume 2015:11 Pages 967—977

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/TCRM.S84210

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Garry Walsh

Ymer H Mekaj,1,2 Agon Y Mekaj,3 Shkelzen B Duci,4 Ermira I Miftari5

1Institute of Pathophysiology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Prishtina, 2Department of Hemostasis and Thrombosis, National Blood Transfusion Center of Kosovo, 3Clinic of Neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Prishtina, 4Clinic of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Prishtina, 5The Hospital and University Clinical Service of Kosovo, Prishtina, Kosovo


Abstract: Despite the discovery and application of many parenteral (unfractionated and low-molecular-weight heparins) and oral anticoagulant vitamin K antagonist (VKA) drugs, the prevention and treatment of venous and arterial thrombotic phenomena remain major medical challenges. Furthermore, VKAs are the only oral anticoagulants used during the past 60 years. The main objective of this study is to present recent data on non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) and to analyze their advantages and disadvantages compared with those of VKAs based on a large number of recent studies. NOACs are novel direct-acting medications that are selective for one specific coagulation factor, either thrombin (IIa) or activated factor X (Xa). Several NOACs, such as dabigatran (a direct inhibitor of FIIa) and rivaroxaban, apixaban and edoxaban (direct inhibitors of factor Xa), have been used for at least 5 years but possibly 10 years. Unlike traditional VKAs, which prevent the coagulation process by suppressing the synthesis of vitamin K-dependent factors, NOACs directly inhibit key proteases (factors IIa and Xa). The important indications of these drugs are the prevention and treatment of deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms, and the prevention of atherothrombotic events in the heart and brain of patients with acute coronary syndrome and atrial fibrillation. They are not fixed, and dose-various strengths are available. Most studies have reported that more advantages than disadvantages for NOACs when compared with VKAs, with the most important advantages of NOACs including safety issues (ie, a lower incidence of major bleeding), convenience of use, minor drug and food interactions, a wide therapeutic window, and no need for laboratory monitoring. Nonetheless, there are some conditions for which VKAs remain the drug of choice. Based on the available data, we can conclude that NOACs have greater advantages and fewer disadvantages compared with VKAs. New studies are required to further assess the efficacy of NOACs.

Keywords: novel oral anticoagulants, direct IIa and Xa inhibitors, vitamin K antagonist, venous thromboembolism

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