Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

Concurrent use of DOAC and aspirin without indication associated with increased bleeding in AF and VTE

Adverse Events Associated With the Addition of Aspirin to Direct Oral Anticoagulant Therapy Without a Clear Indication

Literature - Schaefer JK, Errickson J, Li Y et al. - JAMA Intern Med. 2021 Apr 19. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2021.1197

Introduction and methods

Aspirin, or Acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), in combination with oral anticoagulation therapy is indicated for patients with non-valvular AF or VTE who experience ACS or undergo PCI, as well as for patients with certain assist devices [1,2]. Aside from conditions were combination of ASA and oral anticoagulation is indicated, combination therapy may increase bleeding without reducing thrombotic outcomes [3-7]. The 2019 ACC/AHA Guidelines on the primary prevention of CVD do not recommend use of prophylactic ASA in combination with anticoagulants in patients with an increased bleeding risk [7]. However, it remains unclear what proportion of patients who are on DOACs also receive ASA without a well-defined therapeutic indication and how concomitant ASA and DOAC therapy affects clinical outcomes in patients with AF and/or VTE.

This registry-based cohort study included 3280 patients (1673 men [51%], mean age 68.2 [SD:13.3] years) who received DOAC therapy and who had no clear indication for ASA . Patients who started a DOAC for AF or VTE at 4 anticoagulation clinics in the state of Michigan, USA were included in the registry. Patients who had <3 months follow-up data available, who experienced a MI <6 months prior to DOAC initiation, or had a history of heart valve replacement were excluded. Patients not using ASA were included in the DOAC monotherapy group (2173 of 3280, 66.3%) and patients using any dose of ASA were included in the DOAC combination therapy group (1107 of 3280, 33.8%). Propensity scoring resulted in two propensity score-matched cohorts of each 1047 patients. The primary outcome was rate of any patients-reported bleeding events, regardless of severity. Secondary bleeding outcomes included major bleeding, nonmajor bleeding, emergency visits for bleeding, and hospitalizations related to bleeding. Secondary thrombotic outcomes included ischemic strokes, TIA, VTE, ACS/MI, emergency visits for thrombosis, and hospitalizations for thrombosis. Median follow up was 12 (IQR 6-30) months.

Main results


This registry-based cohort study of patients with AF and/or VTE showed that 1 in 3 patients were taking ASA without clear therapeutic indication in addition to DOAC. Patients on ASA plus DOAC experienced significantly more bleeding events than patients on DOAC monotherapy. This difference was driven by a difference in minor bleeding. Patients on ASA plus DOAC were also more often hospitalized for bleeding events compared to those on DOAC alone. There was no significant difference in major bleedings rates nor in thrombotic event rates between groups.


Show references

Find this article online at JAMA Intern Med.

Share this page with your colleagues and friends: