Direct Oral Anticoagulants for Very Elderly People With Atrial Fibrillation: Efficacy and Safe Enough?

Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2017 Jan;23(1):58-63. doi: 10.1177/1076029615619485. Epub 2015 Nov 30.


Background: Four direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have been licensed for the treatment of atrial fibrillation (AF); efficacy and safety have been shown in clinical trials, but its real use in elderly and very elderly people is still unclear.

Aim: To evaluate the impact of DOACs in our patients (pts) aged ≥75 years and switched from other treatments.

Methods: From September 2013 to May 2015, all consecutive pts aged ≥75 years, males and females, in treatment for AF and switched to DOACs are considered in this study. Follow-up (FU) was scheduled after 3 and 6 months by phone and after 12 months by visit.

Results: Two hundred thirty-two pts in treatment for AF were switched to DOACs, among these 143 (61.6%) pts aged ≥75 years (mean age, 81 years). The medium FU was 9.6 months, during which 4 minor bleedings in 4 different pts and 1 clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding were reported, all treated with temporary cessation or reduction in DOACs. Two strokes occurred in pts in treatment with dabigatran 110 mg, both resolved without serious sequelae; 2.8% of pts had nausea, itching, vomiting, or discomfort, half of these returned to acenocumarol, and the remaining switched to other DOAC. Four pts died, but the deaths were not related to anticoagulation.

Conclusion: As reported for general people, also in our elderly population, DOACs resulted in a good alternative to old antithrombotic therapies. Efficacy and safety associated with a higher compliance by pts bring these drugs to be the first choice for long-term anticoagulation.

Keywords: anticoagulants; bleeding; cardiology; stroke.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / pharmacology
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male


  • Anticoagulants