Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common tachyarrhythmia in Australia, with a prevalence over 10% in older patients. AF is the leading preventable cause of ischaemic stroke, and strokes due to AF have a higher mortality and morbidity. Stroke prevention is therefore a key management strategy for AF patients, in addition to rate and rhythm control. Anticoagulation with warfarin has been an enduring gold standard for stroke prevention in NVAF patients. In Australia, three novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs), apixaban, dabigatran and rivaroxaban are now approved and reimbursed for stroke prevention in patients with non-valvular AF (NVAF). International European Cardiology guidelines now recommend either a NOAC or warfarin for NVAF patients with a CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2, unless contraindicated. Apixaban is a direct factor Xa inhibitor with a 12-hour half-life and 25% renal excretion that was found in a large trial of NVAF patients to be superior to warfarin in preventing stroke or systemic embolism. In this trial population, apixaban also resulted in less bleeding and a lower mortality rate than warfarin.Methods: Clinical experience with apixaban outside of clinical trials has been limited, and there is currently little evidence to guide the management of bleeding or invasive procedures in patients taking apixaban. The relevant currently available animal and ex vivo human data were collected, analyzed and summarized.Results: This multi-disciplinary consensus statement has been written to serve as a guide for healthcare practitioners prescribing apixaban in Australia, with a focus on acute and emergency management.Conclusions: The predictable pharmacokinetics and minimal drug interactions of apixaban should allow for safe anticoagulation in the majority of patients, including temporary interruption for elective procedures. In the absence of published data, patients actively bleeding on apixaban should receive standard supportive treatment. Quantitative assays of apixaban level such as chromogenic anti-Xa assays are becoming available but their utility is unproven in this setting. Specific antidotes for novel anticoagulants, including apixaban, are in clinical development.
- Novel oral anticoagulants
- Perioperative management