Bleeding events in pulmonary arterial hypertension

Eur J Clin Invest. 2009 Jun;39 Suppl 2:68-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2362.2009.02122.x.


Despite limited evidence from clinical studies, anticoagulant drugs such as vitamin K antagonists (VKA) (e.g., warfarin or phenprocoumon) are widely used in the background treatment of patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). According to current guidelines, they are generally accepted as efficacious drugs, although their efficacy is neither supported by randomised controlled trials, nor formally approved by regulatory agencies for use in the specific PAH indication. The use of these drugs is not without problems, as a paradoxical situation has to be managed in the treatment of this condition. On one hand, thrombosis is one of the key pathophysiologic features of PAH (besides vasoconstriction, proliferation and inflammation). On the other hand, the incidence of bleeding events is increased in PAH patients. This applies particularly to PAH that is related to connective tissue diseases, congenital heart disease and chronic thromboembolic pulmonary hypertension. In patients receiving VKA, caution must be observed in particular when concomitantly using prostanoids or sildenafil. Similarly, VKA doses have to be adjusted according to the labelling when using sitaxentan concomitantly. Regular International Normalized Ratio monitoring contributes to the safety of PAH patients on VKA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Endothelin Receptor Antagonists
  • Hemorrhage / etiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / complications*
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / drug therapy
  • Thrombosis / etiology
  • Vitamin K / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Anticoagulants
  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Endothelin Receptor Antagonists
  • Vitamin K