Atrial fibrillation (AF) and venous thromboembolism (VTE), which includes deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism, are conditions that increase with age. Anticoagulant therapy is strongly recommended both in patients with AF for the prevention of cardioembolic stroke, and for treatment of VTE and prevention of recurrent VTE. Until recently, vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) were the only oral drugs for long-term anticoagulation. In the past decade, four direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) were approved: a direct thrombin inhibitor (dabigatran) and three factor Xa inhibitors (apixaban, rivaroxaban, edoxaban). Despite increasing evidence demonstrating the efficacy and safety of DOACs in older patients, there are still gray areas where the use of VKAs might be valuable.
Vitamin K antagonist; direct oral anticoagulant; prevention; thrombosis; bleeding risk.