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The outcomes of patients developing major bleeding while on oral anticoagulants remain largely unquantified. The objectives of this study were to: (i) describe the burden of major hemorrhage associated with all available oral anticoagulants in terms of proportion of bleeds which are intracranial hemorrhages, in-hospital mortality and duration of hospitalization following major bleeding; (ii) identify risk factors for mortality; and (iii) compare the characteristics of major hemorrhage between cases treated with warfarin and direct oral anticoagulants for the subgroups of patients with atrial fibrillation or venous thromboembolism. This was a multicenter, 3-year prospective cohort study of patients aged ≥18 years on oral anticoagulants who developed major hemorrhage leading to hospitalization. The patients were followed up for 30 days or until discharge or death, whichever occurred first. In total 2,192 patients (47% female, 81% on warfarin, median age 80 years) were reported between October 2013 and August 2016 from 32 hospitals in the UK. Bleeding sites were intracranial (44%), gastrointestinal (33%), and other (24%). The in-hospital mortality was 21% (95% CI: 19%-23%) overall, and 33% (95% CI: 30%-36%) for patients with intracranial hemorrhage. Intracranial hemorrhage, advanced age, spontaneous bleeding, liver failure and cancer were risk factors for death. Compared to warfarin-treated patients, patients treated with direct oral anticoagulants were older and had lower odds of subdural/epidural, subarachnoid and intracerebral bleeding. The mortality rate due to major bleeding was not different between patients being treated with warfarin or direct oral anticoagulants. Major bleeding while on oral anticoagulant therapy leads to considerable hospital stays and short-term mortality.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





738 - 745


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Anticoagulants, Female, Hemorrhage, Hospital Mortality, Humans, Intracranial Hemorrhages, Length of Stay, Male, Middle Aged, Prospective Studies, Risk Factors, United Kingdom, Warfarin