Apixaban for Prevention of Thromboembolism in Pediatric Heart Disease

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2023 Dec 12;82(24):2296-2309. doi: 10.1016/j.jacc.2023.10.010.


Background: Children with heart disease frequently require anticoagulation for thromboprophylaxis. Current standard of care (SOC), vitamin K antagonists or low-molecular-weight heparin, has significant disadvantages.

Objectives: The authors sought to describe safety, pharmacokinetics (PK), pharmacodynamics, and efficacy of apixaban, an oral, direct factor Xa inhibitor, for prevention of thromboembolism in children with congenital or acquired heart disease.

Methods: Phase 2, open-label trial in children (ages, 28 days to <18 years) with heart disease requiring thromboprophylaxis. Randomization 2:1 apixaban or SOC for 1 year with intention-to-treat analysis.

Primary endpoint: a composite of adjudicated major or clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding. Secondary endpoints: PK, pharmacodynamics, quality of life, and exploration of efficacy.

Results: From 2017 to 2021, 192 participants were randomized, 129 apixaban and 63 SOC. Diagnoses included single ventricle (74%), Kawasaki disease (14%), and other heart disease (12%). One apixaban participant (0.8%) and 3 with SOC (4.8%) had major or clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding (% difference -4.0 [95% CI: -12.8 to 0.8]). Apixaban incidence rate for all bleeding events was nearly twice the rate of SOC (100.0 vs 58.2 per 100 person-years), driven by 12 participants with ≥4 minor bleeding events. No thromboembolic events or deaths occurred in either arm. Apixaban pediatric PK steady-state exposures were consistent with adult levels.

Conclusions: In this pediatric multinational, randomized trial, bleeding and thromboembolism were infrequent on apixaban and SOC. Apixaban PK data correlated well with adult trials that demonstrated efficacy. These results support the use of apixaban as an alternative to SOC for thromboprophylaxis in pediatric heart disease. (A Study of the Safety and Pharmacokinetics of Apixaban Versus Vitamin K Antagonist [VKA] or Low Molecular Weight Heparin [LMWH] in Pediatric Subjects With Congenital or Acquired Heart Disease Requiring Anticoagulation; NCT02981472).

Keywords: anticoagulation; apixaban; congenital; heart; pediatric; thromboembolism.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Fibrinolytic Agents* / therapeutic use
  • Heart Diseases* / complications
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pyridones / therapeutic use
  • Quality of Life
  • Venous Thromboembolism* / etiology
  • Venous Thromboembolism* / prevention & control
  • Vitamin K


  • Anticoagulants
  • apixaban
  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Heparin, Low-Molecular-Weight
  • Pyridones
  • Vitamin K

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02981472