Association between anticoagulants and mortality and functional outcomes in older patients with major trauma

Emerg Med J. 2021 Oct 5;emermed-2019-209368. doi: 10.1136/emermed-2019-209368. Online ahead of print.


Background: The number of trauma patients taking anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents is increasing as society ages. However, there have been limited and inconsistent reports of the association between anticoagulants and mortality and functional outcomes. This study aimed to quantify the association between anticoagulant/antiplatelet medication at the time of injury and both short-term and longer-term outcomes in older major trauma patients.

Methods: This was a population-based registry study using data from the Victorian State Trauma Registry from July 2017 to June 2018. We included patients with major trauma aged 65 years and older. The outcomes of interest were in-hospital mortality, hospital length of stay, intensive care unit length of stay and the Extended Glasgow Outcome Scale (GOS-E) at 6 months after injury. We examined the association between the outcomes and anticoagulants/antiplatelet agents at the time of injury and used multivariable logistic regression models to account for known confounders.

Results: There were 1323 older adults eligible for inclusion in the study, of which 249 (18.8%) were taking anticoagulants (n=8 were taking both anticoagulants and antiplatelet agents), 380 (28.7%) were taking antiplatelet agents and 694 (52.5%) were not using either. Any anticoagulant use was associated with higher odds of in-hospital mortality (adjusted OR (AOR), 2.38; 95% CI 1.58 to 3.59) compared with not using anticoagulants. No differences were observed in the GOS-E at 6 months after injury between any anticoagulants use, antiplatelet use and no anticoagulant use (anticoagulant AOR, 0.71; 95% CI 0.48 to 1.05, antiplatelet AOR, 1.02; 95% CI 0.73 to 1.42).

Conclusion: Anticoagulant use at the time of injury was associated with higher odds of in-hospital mortality but did not adversely impact functional outcomes at 6 months after injury. These findings demonstrate the importance of seeking an accurate history of anticoagulant use and its indication, as well as the immediate initiation of reversal therapies.

Keywords: death/mortality; geriatrics; major trauma management; research; trauma.