Restarting anticoagulation and outcomes after major gastrointestinal bleeding in atrial fibrillation

Am J Cardiol. 2014 Feb 15;113(4):662-8. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2013.10.044. Epub 2013 Nov 23.


Data regarding the outcomes of restarting anticoagulation in patients who develop gastrointestinal bleeding (GIB) while anticoagulated are sparse. We hypothesized that restarting anticoagulation in these patients is associated with better outcomes. This is a retrospective cohort study that enrolled subjects who developed GIB while on anticoagulation from 2005 to 2010. Atrial fibrillation was defined by history and electrocardiography on presentation. GIB was defined as a decrease in hemoglobin by 2 g, visible bleeding, or positive endoscopic evaluation. Time-to-event adjusted analyses were performed to find an association of restarting warfarin and recurrent GIB, arterial thromboembolism, and mortality. Stratified analysis by duration of interruption of warfarin was also performed. Overall, 1,329 patients (mean age 76 years, women 45%) developed major GIB. Warfarin was restarted in 653 cases (49.1%). Restarting warfarin was associated with decreased thromboembolism (hazard ratio [HR] 1.18, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.75 to 1.84, p = 0.47) [corrected] and reduced mortality (HR 0.67, 95% CI 0.56 to 0.81, p <0.0001) but not recurrent GIB (HR 1.18, 95% CI 0.94 to 1.10, p = 0.47). When the outcomes were stratified by duration of warfarin interruption, restarting warfarin after 7 days was not associated with increased risk of GIB but was associated with decreased risk of mortality and thromboembolism compared with resuming after 30 days of interruption. Decision to restart warfarin after an episode of major GIB is associated with improved survival and decreased thromboembolism without increased risk of GIB after 7 days of interruption.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / drug therapy*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / mortality
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / chemically induced*
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / complications
  • Gastrointestinal Hemorrhage / mortality
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retreatment
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States
  • Warfarin / adverse effects*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin