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Controversies in anticoagulation therapy in patients with cirrhosis

Sasso, Roula; Rockey, Don C.

Current Opinion in Gastroenterology: May 2019 - Volume 35 - Issue 3 - p 161–167
doi: 10.1097/MOG.0000000000000523
LIVER: Edited by Don C. Rockey
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Purpose of review This article aims to review the latest literature on prophylactic and therapeutic anticoagulation and the safety profile of anticoagulants in patients with cirrhosis.

Recent findings The understanding of hematological hemostasis is cirrhotic patients has changed drastically in recent years. Although in the past, cirrhotic patients were often considered to be ‘auto-anticoagulated’ and at higher risk of bleeding, recent studies have demonstrated that there may be a rebalance in procoagulation and anticoagulation factors in patients with cirrhosis. This, and clinical experience, suggest that cirrhotic patients are at risk of development of venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism and ischemic strokes and as such, the best management approaches in these patients remains controversial. The bulk of the data suggest that patients with cirrhosis who are at risk for thrombotic or embolic complications should be anticoagulated. However, it is imperative that they be closely monitored.

Summary The medical literature on anticoagulation in patients with liver cirrhosis is conflicting and limited to small sample observational studies. However, most studies suggest that in patients with early stages of liver cirrhosis and no history of varices, anticoagulation appears to be well tolerated.

Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA

Correspondence to Don C. Rockey, MD, Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, 96 Jonathan Lucas Street, CSB, Room 803, Charleston, SC 29425, USA. Tel: +1 843 792 2914; fax: +1 843 792 5265; e-mail: rockey@musc.edu

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