The evolution of anticoagulant therapy

Blood Transfus. 2016 Mar;14(2):175-84. doi: 10.2450/2015.0096-15. Epub 2015 Dec 16.


Arterial and venous thromboembolism are leading causes of morbidity and mortality around the world. For almost 70 years, heparins (unfractionated heparin and low molecular weight heparins) and vitamin K antagonists have been the leading therapeutic medical options for the treatment and prevention of thromboembolic disorders. Nevertheless, the many limitations of these traditional anticoagulants have fuelled the search for novel agents over the past 15 years, and a new class of oral anticoagulants that specifically target activated factor X and thrombin has been developed and is now commercially available. In this narrative review, the evolution of anticoagulant therapy is summarised, with a focus on newer oral anticoagulants.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Factor Xa Inhibitors / history
  • Factor Xa Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Heparin / history
  • Heparin / therapeutic use*
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Venous Thromboembolism / drug therapy*
  • Venous Thromboembolism / history
  • Vitamin K / antagonists & inhibitors


  • Factor Xa Inhibitors
  • Vitamin K
  • Heparin