Oral anticoagulant monitoring: Are we on the right track?

Pall T. Onundarson*, Bjorn Flygenring

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) cannot be administered without regular monitoring in order to assure their efficacy and safety. Indeed, if well managed, the VKAs appear to be no less efficacious or safe than the newer direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs). Although it is claimed that no regular monitoring of the DOACs is needed, their levels are increasingly being measured under a variety of circumstances, for example, prior to surgery, in suspected overdose, to confirm effective reversal, in patients with malabsorption and to assess patient compliance. Although no therapeutic range has been identified for the DOACs, it has been demonstrated for dabigatran and edoxaban that their antithrombotic effect increases gradually with increasing concentrations and that the risk of major bleeding also gradually increases. Furthermore, it has been determined that almost all dabigatran-related thrombotic events occur in patients with the lowest quartile concentration of the drug. This suggests that to assure an ideal effect of DOACs in all patients taking them, some form of regular monitoring and dose tailoring should be performed. For the vitamin K antagonists, the best outcome is obtained using formal algorithms and centralized management. Furthermore, data suggest that replacing the standard prothrombin time as a monitoring test may increase the stability of VKA anticoagulation with consequent reduction in thromboembolism without an increase in bleeding. Thus, it is likely that the outcome of all current oral anticoagulants can be improved in the coming years by improving monitoring and tailoring their effect.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)40-48
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Laboratory Hematology
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

Other keywords

  • anticoagulants
  • direct oral anticoagulants
  • drug effects
  • monitoring
  • vitamin K antagonists


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