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Prevention and Treatment of Venous Thromboembolism and Pulmonary Embolism: The Role of Novel Oral Anticoagulants

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Venous thromboembolism, encompassing deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, is the third most common cause of vascular death after myocardial infarction and stroke. Clinicians are often summoned to make challenging decisions for the prevention and treatment of high risk patients with an unpredicted outcome, often relying on data that are less than definitive. During the last decades, heparins (unfractionated and low molecular weight heparins) as well as vitamin K antagonists, such as warfarin, and indirect Xa inhibitors, such as fontaparinux, are the cornerstone for the prevention and treatment of patients with venous thromboembolism. However, the traditionally used anticoagulants have several drawbacks that may limit their efficacy and use in every day clinical practise. The newly developed oral anticoagulants, belonging to the categories of direct thrombin inhibitors (DTIs) and direct Xa inhibitors, have emerged as promising agents with remarkable efficacy, concentrating many parameters of an ideal anticoagulant. Rivaroxaban, dabigatran and apixaban are the most studied agents, while a plethora of others are investigated in clinical trials of different phases and are expected to reach the market in the following years. The purpose of this review is to summarize the so far acquired knowledge on these agents, to report briefly some of their pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties and to focus on their role in the treatment and prevention of venous thromboembolism.

Keywords: Apixaban; Edoxaban; Ximelagatran; dabigatran; direct Xa inhibitors; direct thrombin inhibitors; oral anticoagulants; pulmonary embolism; rivaroxaban; venous thromboembolism

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 1, 2012

More about this publication?
  • Current Clinical Pharmacology publishes frontier reviews on all the latest advances in clinical pharmacology. The journal's aim is to publish the highest quality review articles in the field. Topics covered include: pharmacokinetics; therapeutic trials; adverse drug reactions; drug interactions; drug metabolism; pharmacoepidemiology; and drug development. The journal is essential reading for all researchers in clinical pharmacology.

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