Direct oral anticoagulants for treatment of HIT: update of Hamilton experience and literature review

Blood. 2017 Aug 31;130(9):1104-1113. doi: 10.1182/blood-2017-04-778993. Epub 2017 Jun 23.


Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) are attractive options for treatment of heparin-induced thrombocytopenia (HIT). We report our continuing experience in Hamilton, ON, Canada, since January 1, 2015 (when we completed our prospective study of rivaroxaban for HIT), using rivaroxaban for serologically confirmed HIT (4Ts score ≥4 points; positive platelet factor 4 [PF4]/heparin immunoassay, positive serotonin-release assay). We also performed a literature review of HIT treatment using DOACs (rivaroxaban, apixaban, dabigatran, edoxaban). We focused on patients who received DOAC therapy for acute HIT as either primary therapy (group A) or secondary therapy (group B; initial treatment using a non-DOAC/non-heparin anticoagulant with transition to a DOAC during HIT-associated thrombocytopenia). Our primary end point was occurrence of objectively documented thrombosis during DOAC therapy for acute HIT. We found that recovery without new, progressive, or recurrent thrombosis occurred in all 10 Hamilton patients with acute HIT treated with rivaroxaban. Data from the literature review plus these new data identified a thrombosis rate of 1 of 46 patients (2.2%; 95% CI, 0.4%-11.3%) in patients treated with rivaroxaban during acute HIT (group A, n = 25; group B, n = 21); major hemorrhage was seen in 0 of 46 patients. Similar outcomes in smaller numbers of patients were observed with apixaban (n = 12) and dabigatran (n = 11). DOACs offer simplified management of selected patients, as illustrated by a case of persisting (autoimmune) HIT (>2-month platelet recovery with inversely parallel waning of serum-induced heparin-independent serotonin release) with successful outpatient rivaroxaban management of HIT-associated thrombosis. Evidence supporting efficacy and safety of DOACs for acute HIT is increasing, with the most experience reported for rivaroxaban.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage*
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Fondaparinux
  • Heparin / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Polysaccharides / therapeutic use
  • Rivaroxaban / therapeutic use
  • Thrombocytopenia / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anticoagulants
  • Polysaccharides
  • Heparin
  • Rivaroxaban
  • Fondaparinux