Current use and safety of novel oral anticoagulants in adults with congenital heart disease: results of a nationwide analysis including more than 44 000 patients

Eur Heart J. 2020 Nov 14;41(43):4168-4177. doi: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehaa844.


Aims: To evaluate the use of novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) compared with vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) in adult congenital heart disease (ACHD) and assess outcome in a nationwide analysis.

Methods and results: Using data from one of Germany's largest Health Insurers, all ACHD patients treated with VKAs or NOACs were identified and changes in prescription patterns were assessed. Furthermore, the association between anticoagulation regimen and complications including mortality was studied. Between 2005 and 2018, the use of oral anticoagulants in ACHD increased from 6.3% to 12.4%. Since NOACs became available their utilization increased constantly, accounting for 45% of prescribed anticoagulants in ACHD in 2018. Adult congenital heart disease patients on NOACs had higher thromboembolic (3.8% vs. 2.8%), MACE (7.8% vs. 6.0%), bleeding rates (11.7% vs. 9.0%), and all-cause mortality (4.0% vs. 2.8%; all P < 0.05) after 1 year of therapy compared with VKAs. After comprehensive adjustment for patient characteristics, NOACs were still associated with increased risk of MACE (hazard rate-HR 1.22; 95% CI 1.09-1.36) and increased all-cause mortality (HR 1.43; 95% CI 1.24-1.65; both P < 0.001), but also bleeding (HR 1.16; 95% CI 1.04-1.29; P = 0.007) during long-term follow-up.

Conclusion: Despite the lack of prospective studies in ACHD, NOACs are increasingly replacing VKAs and now account for almost half of all oral anticoagulant prescriptions. Particularly, NOACs were associated with excess long-term risk of MACE, and mortality in this nationwide analysis, emphasizing the need for prospective studies before solid recommendations for their use in ACHD can be provided.

Keywords: Anticoagulation; Mortality; NOACs; Thromboembolism; Adult congenital heart disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Adult
  • Anticoagulants* / administration & dosage
  • Anticoagulants* / adverse effects
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / drug therapy
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / complications
  • Heart Defects, Congenital* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stroke* / drug therapy
  • Vitamin K


  • Anticoagulants
  • Vitamin K