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1.  Point-of-Care International Normalized Ratio (INR) Monitoring Devices for Patients on Long-term Oral Anticoagulation Therapy 
Executive Summary
Subject of the Evidence-Based Analysis
The purpose of this evidence based analysis report is to examine the safety and effectiveness of point-of-care (POC) international normalized ratio (INR) monitoring devices for patients on long-term oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT).
Clinical Need: Target Population and Condition
Long-term OAT is typically required by patients with mechanical heart valves, chronic atrial fibrillation, venous thromboembolism, myocardial infarction, stroke, and/or peripheral arterial occlusion. It is estimated that approximately 1% of the population receives anticoagulation treatment and, by applying this value to Ontario, there are an estimated 132,000 patients on OAT in the province, a figure that is expected to increase with the aging population.
Patients on OAT are regularly monitored and their medications adjusted to ensure that their INR scores remain in the therapeutic range. This can be challenging due to the narrow therapeutic window of warfarin and variation in individual responses. Optimal INR scores depend on the underlying indication for treatment and patient level characteristics, but for most patients the therapeutic range is an INR score of between 2.0 and 3.0.
The current standard of care in Ontario for patients on long-term OAT is laboratory-based INR determination with management carried out by primary care physicians or anticoagulation clinics (ACCs). Patients also regularly visit a hospital or community-based facility to provide a venous blood samples (venipuncture) that are then sent to a laboratory for INR analysis.
Experts, however, have commented that there may be under-utilization of OAT due to patient factors, physician factors, or regional practice variations and that sub-optimal patient management may also occur. There is currently no population-based Ontario data to permit the assessment of patient care, but recent systematic reviews have estimated that less that 50% of patients receive OAT on a routine basis and that patients are in the therapeutic range only 64% of the time.
Overview of POC INR Devices
POC INR devices offer an alternative to laboratory-based testing and venipuncture, enabling INR determination from a fingerstick sample of whole blood. Independent evaluations have shown POC devices to have an acceptable level of precision. They permit INR results to be determined immediately, allowing for more rapid medication adjustments.
POC devices can be used in a variety of settings including physician offices, ACCs, long-term care facilities, pharmacies, or by the patients themselves through self-testing (PST) or self-management (PSM) techniques. With PST, patients measure their INR values and then contact their physician for instructions on dose adjustment, whereas with PSM, patients adjust the medication themselves based on pre-set algorithms. These models are not suitable for all patients and require the identification and education of suitable candidates.
Potential advantages of POC devices include improved convenience to patients, better treatment compliance and satisfaction, more frequent monitoring and fewer thromboembolic and hemorrhagic complications. Potential disadvantages of the device include the tendency to underestimate high INR values and overestimate low INR values, low thromboplastin sensitivity, inability to calculate a mean normal PT, and errors in INR determination in patients with antiphospholipid antibodies with certain instruments. Although treatment satisfaction and quality of life (QoL) may improve with POC INR monitoring, some patients may experience increased anxiety or preoccupation with their disease with these strategies.
Evidence-Based Analysis Methods
Research Questions
1. Effectiveness
Does POC INR monitoring improve clinical outcomes in various settings compared to standard laboratory-based testing?
Does POC INR monitoring impact patient satisfaction, QoL, compliance, acceptability, convenience compared to standard laboratory-based INR determination?
Settings include primary care settings with use of POC INR devices by general practitioners or nurses, ACCs, pharmacies, long-term care homes, and use by the patient either for PST or PSM.
2. Cost-effectiveness
What is the cost-effectiveness of POC INR monitoring devices in various settings compared to standard laboratory-based INR determination?
Inclusion Criteria
English-language RCTs, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses
Publication dates: 1996 to November 25, 2008
Population: patients on OAT
Intervention: anticoagulation monitoring by POC INR device in any setting including anticoagulation clinic, primary care (general practitioner or nurse), pharmacy, long-term care facility, PST, PSM or any other POC INR strategy
Minimum sample size: 50 patients Minimum follow-up period: 3 months
Comparator: usual care defined as venipuncture blood draw for an INR laboratory test and management provided by an ACC or individual practitioner
Outcomes: Hemorrhagic events, thromboembolic events, all-cause mortality, anticoagulation control as assessed by proportion of time or values in the therapeutic range, patient reported outcomes including satisfaction, QoL, compliance, acceptability, convenience
Exclusion criteria
Non-RCTs, before-after studies, quasi-experimental studies, observational studies, case reports, case series, editorials, letters, non-systematic reviews, conference proceedings, abstracts, non-English articles, duplicate publications
Studies where POC INR devices were compared to laboratory testing to assess test accuracy
Studies where the POC INR results were not used to guide patient management
Method of Review
A search of electronic databases (OVID MEDLINE, MEDLINE In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, EMBASE, The Cochrane Library, and the International Agency for Health Technology Assessment [INAHTA] database) was undertaken to identify evidence published from January 1, 1998 to November 25, 2008. Studies meeting the inclusion criteria were selected from the search results. Reference lists of selected articles were also checked for relevant studies.
Summary of Findings
Five existing reviews and 22 articles describing 17 unique RCTs met the inclusion criteria. Three RCTs examined POC INR monitoring devices with PST strategies, 11 RCTs examined PSM strategies, one RCT included both PST and PSM strategies and two RCTs examined the use of POC INR monitoring devices by health care professionals.
Anticoagulation Control
Anticoagulation control is measured by the percentage of time INR is within the therapeutic range or by the percentage of INR values in the therapeutic range. Due to the differing methodologies and reporting structures used, it was deemed inappropriate to combine the data and estimate whether the difference between groups would be significant. Instead, the results of individual studies were weighted by the number of person-years of observation and then pooled to calculate a summary measure.
Across most studies, patients in the intervention groups tended to have a higher percentage of time and values in the therapeutic target range in comparison to control patients. When the percentage of time in the therapeutic range was pooled across studies and weighted by the number of person-years of observation, the difference between the intervention and control groups was 4.2% for PSM, 7.2% for PST and 6.1% for POC use by health care practitioners. Overall, intervention patients were in the target range 69% of the time and control patients were in the therapeutic target range 64% of the time leading to an overall difference between groups of roughly 5%.
Major Complications and Deaths
There was no statistically significant difference in the number of major hemorrhagic events between patients managed with POC INR monitoring devices and patients managed with standard laboratory testing (OR =0.74; 95% CI: 0.52- 1.04). This difference was non-significant for all POC strategies (PSM, PST, health care practitioner).
Patients managed with POC INR monitoring devices had significantly fewer thromboembolic events than usual care patients (OR =0.52; 95% CI: 0.37 - 0.74). When divided by POC strategy, PSM resulted in significantly fewer thromboembolic events than usual care (OR =0.46.; 95% CI: 0.29 - 0.72). The observed difference in thromboembolic events for PSM remained significant when the analysis was limited to major thromboembolic events (OR =0.40; 95% CI: 0.17 - 0.93), but was non-significant when the analysis was limited to minor thromboembolic events (OR =0.73; 95% CI: 0.08 - 7.01). PST and GP/Nurse strategies did not result in significant differences in thromboembolic events, however there were only a limited number of studies examining these interventions.
No statistically significant difference was observed in the number of deaths between POC intervention and usual care control groups (OR =0.67; 95% CI: 0.41 - 1.10). This difference was non-significant for all POC strategies. Only one study reported on survival with 10-year survival rate of 76.1% in the usual care control group compared to 84.5% in the PSM group (P=0.05).
Summary Results of Meta-Analyses of Major Complications and Deaths in POC INR Monitoring Studies
Patient Satisfaction and Quality of Life
Quality of life measures were reported in eight studies comparing POC INR monitoring to standard laboratory testing using a variety of measurement tools. It was thus not possible to calculate a quantitative summary measure. The majority of studies reported favourable impacts of POC INR monitoring on QoL and found better treatment satisfaction with POC monitoring. Results from a pre-analysis patient and caregiver focus group conducted in Ontario also indicated improved patient QoL with POC monitoring.
Quality of the Evidence
Studies varied with regard to patient eligibility, baseline patient characteristics, follow-up duration, and withdrawal rates. Differential drop-out rates were observed such that the POC intervention groups tended to have a larger number of patients who withdrew. There was a lack of consistency in the definitions and reporting for OAT control and definitions of adverse events. In most studies, the intervention group received more education on the use of warfarin and performed more frequent INR testing, which may have overestimated the effect of the POC intervention. Patient selection and eligibility criteria were not always fully described and it is likely that the majority of the PST/PSM trials included a highly motivated patient population. Lastly, a large number of trials were also sponsored by industry.
Despite the observed heterogeneity among studies, there was a general consensus in findings that POC INR monitoring devices have beneficial impacts on the risk of thromboembolic events, anticoagulation control and patient satisfaction and QoL (ES Table 2).
GRADE Quality of the Evidence on POC INR Monitoring Studies
CI refers to confidence interval; Interv, intervention; OR, odds ratio; RCT, randomized controlled trial.
Economic Analysis
Using a 5-year Markov model, the health and economic outcomes associated with four different anticoagulation management approaches were evaluated:
Standard care: consisting of a laboratory test with a venipuncture blood draw for an INR;
Healthcare staff testing: consisting of a test with a POC INR device in a medical clinic comprised of healthcare staff such as pharmacists, nurses, and physicians following protocol to manage OAT;
PST: patient self-testing using a POC INR device and phoning in results to an ACC or family physician; and
PSM: patient self-managing using a POC INR device and self-adjustment of OAT according to a standardized protocol. Patients may also phone in to a medical office for guidance.
The primary analytic perspective was that of the MOHLTC. Only direct medical costs were considered and the time horizon of the model was five years - the serviceable life of a POC device.
From the results of the economic analysis, it was found that POC strategies are cost-effective compared to traditional INR laboratory testing. In particular, the healthcare staff testing strategy can derive potential cost savings from the use of one device for multiple patients. The PSM strategy, however, seems to be the most cost-effective method i.e. patients are more inclined to adjust their INRs more readily (as opposed to allowing INRs to fall out of range).
Considerations for Ontario Health System
Although the use of POC devices continues to diffuse throughout Ontario, not all OAT patients are suitable or have the ability to practice PST/PSM. The use of POC is currently concentrated at the institutional setting, including hospitals, ACCs, long-term care facilities, physician offices and pharmacies, and is much less commonly used at the patient level. It is, however, estimated that 24% of OAT patients (representing approximately 32,000 patients in Ontario), would be suitable candidates for PST/PSM strategies and willing to use a POC device.
There are several barriers to the use and implementation of POC INR monitoring devices, including factors such as lack of physician familiarity with the devices, resistance to changing established laboratory-based methods, lack of an approach for identifying suitable patients and inadequate resources for effective patient education and training. Issues of cost and insufficient reimbursement strategies may also hinder implementation and effective quality assurance programs would need to be developed to ensure that INR measurements are accurate and precise.
Conclusions
For a select group of patients who are highly motivated and trained, PSM resulted in significantly fewer thromboembolic events compared to conventional laboratory-based INR testing. No significant differences were observed for major hemorrhages or all-cause mortality. PST and GP/Nurse use of POC strategies are just as effective as conventional laboratory-based INR testing for thromboembolic events, major hemorrhages, and all-cause mortality. POC strategies may also result in better OAT control as measured by the proportion of time INR is in the therapeutic range and there appears to be beneficial impacts on patient satisfaction and QoL. The use of POC devices should factor in patient suitability, patient education and training, health system constraints, and affordability.
Keywords
anticoagulants, International Normalized Ratio, point-of-care, self-monitoring, warfarin.
PMCID: PMC3377545  PMID: 23074516
2.  Canalization effect in the coagulation cascade and the interindividual variability of oral anticoagulant response. a simulation Study 
Background
Increasing the predictability and reducing the rate of side effects of oral anticoagulant treatment (OAT) requires further clarification of the cause of about 50% of the interindividual variability of OAT response that is currently unaccounted for. We explore numerically the hypothesis that the effect of the interindividual expression variability of coagulation proteins, which does not usually result in a variability of the coagulation times in untreated subjects, is unmasked by OAT.
Results
We developed a stochastic variant of the Hockin-Mann model of the tissue factor coagulation pathway, using literature data for the variability of coagulation protein levels in the blood of normal subjects. We simulated in vitro coagulation and estimated the Prothrombin Time and the INR across a model population. In a model of untreated subjects a "canalization effect" can be observed in that a coefficient of variation of up to 33% of each protein level results in a simulated INR of 1 with a clinically irrelevant dispersion of 0.12. When the mean and the standard deviation of vitamin-K dependent protein levels were reduced by 80%, corresponding to the usual Warfarin treatment intensity, the simulated INR was 2.98 ± 0.48, a clinically relevant dispersion, corresponding to a reduction of the canalization effect.
Then we combined the Hockin-Mann stochastic model with our previously published model of population response to Warfarin, that takes into account the genetical and the phenotypical variability of Warfarin pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics. We used the combined model to evaluate the coagulation protein variability effect on the variability of the Warfarin dose required to reach an INR target of 2.5. The dose variance when removing the coagulation protein variability was 30% lower. The dose was mostly related to the pretreatment levels of factors VII, X, and the tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI).
Conclusions
It may be worth exploring in experimental studies whether the pretreatment levels of coagulation proteins, in particular VII, X and TFPI, are predictors of the individual warfarin dose, even though, maybe due to a canalization-type effect, their effect on the INR variance in untreated subjects appears low.
doi:10.1186/1742-4682-8-37
PMCID: PMC3215663  PMID: 22082142
Interindividual variability; stochastic model; oral anticoagulant treatment; INR; coagulation cascade; canalization
3.  A New Generation Prothrombin Time Method for INR 
Prothrombin time (PT) is the leading test for monitoring oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT). We sought to determine INR taking into account only active coagulation factors FII, FVII and FX without inhibition in patient plasmas and calibrator kits.
We measured PT using a combined thromboplastin reagent. The calculation was based on a new PT method, which measures active coagulation factors (F II, F VII, FX) and corrects the errors caused by inactive coagulation factors.
On this basis, an INR result with and without inhibition for individual patient samples was also calculated and applied to 200 plasma samples obtained from OAT patients. Conspicuous variation in inhibition between the four calibration kits was noted. The kinetics of this inhibition was closest to a noncompetitive pattern.
The need of correction for INRs of single patients increases with higher INRs. At the same level of patient INRs the coagulation inhibiton varies markedly.
It has been known that different thromboplastin reagents possess variable sensitivities, but this may depend on sensitivity in inactive coagulation factors. PT methods today measure the sum of active coagulation factors and inhibition of inactive coagulation factors. ISI calibrators contain variable amounts of inactive coagulation factors, which renders harmonisation of INR results.
Application of the Acf-PT (INRAcf) presented in this work develops the PT methodology to measure the true coagulation activity in vivo for patient warfarin therapy without inhibition. INRInh can evidently also be used for the diagnostics and follow-up of certain liver diseases.
doi:10.2174/1874104500802010011
PMCID: PMC2709469  PMID: 19662139
PT; prothrombin time; oral anticoagulant therapy; Pivka.
4.  A sensitivity comparison of the Quick and Owren prothrombin time methods in oral anticoagulant therapy 
Hematology Reviews  2009;1(2):e15.
Prothrombin time (PT) is the leading test for monitoring oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT). According to the World Health Organization recommendation, International Normalized Ratio (INR) results obtained from the same patient samples with the major PT methods (Quick and Owren) should be the same when the therapeutic range is the same. In our study blood samples were obtained from 207 OAT patients. We analyzed the samples using two Quick and two Owren PT (combined thromboplastin) reagents for INR and assessed the sensitivity and true coagulation activity using a new-generation PT method. The INR values with the Quick PT and Owren PT methods were very similar around the normal range, while unacceptable differences were seen within the therapeutic range and at higher INR values. The Quick PT results as INR are clearly lower than those given by Owren PT and the difference increases toward higher INR. The new PT method functions well with both Owren PT reagents, and we can calculate the true active INR. The Quick PT methods show no sensitivity to coagulation inhibition measurement. The harmonization of the INR is an important goal for the safety of OAT patients. More accurate INR results reduce morbidity and mortality, and the therapeutic ranges should be similar worldwide. In this study we found unacceptable differences in INR results produced by the two PT methods. The new method showed a lack of sensitivity to Quick PT. For the global harmonization of OAT therapy and for INR accuracy only the more sensitive Owren PT method should be used.
doi:10.4081/hr.2009.e15
PMCID: PMC3222250
International Normalized Ratio; oral anticoagulant therapy; prothrombin time; warfarin.
5.  Patients' perspectives on self-testing of oral anticoagulation therapy: Content analysis of patients' internet blogs 
Background
Patients on oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT) require regular testing of the prothrombin time (PT) and the international normalised ratio (INR) to monitor their blood coagulation level to avoid complications of either over or under coagulation. PT/INR can be tested by a healthcare professional or by the patient. The latter mode of the testing is known as patient self-testing or home testing. The objective of this study was to elicit patients' perspectives and experiences regarding PT/INR self-testing using portable coagulometer devices.
Methods
Internet blog text mining was used to collect 246 blog postings by 108 patients, mainly from the USA and the UK. The content of these qualitative data were analysed using XSight and NVivo software packages.
Results
The key themes in relation to self-testing of OAT identified were as follows: Patient benefits reported were time saved, personal control, choice, travel reduction, cheaper testing, and peace of mind. Equipment issues included high costs, reliability, quality, and learning how to use the device. PT/INR issues focused on the frequency of testing, INR fluctuations and individual target (therapeutic) INR level. Other themes noted were INR testing at laboratories, the interactions with healthcare professionals in managing and testing OAT and insurance companies' involvement in acquiring the self-testing equipment. Social issues included the pain and stress of taking and testing for OAT.
Conclusions
Patients' blogs on PT/INR testing provide insightful information that can help in understanding the nature of the experiences and perspectives of patients on self-testing of OAT. The themes identified in this paper highlight the substantial complexities involved in self-testing programmes in the healthcare system. Thus, the issues elicited in this study are very valuable for all stakeholders involved in developing effective self-testing strategies in healthcare that are gaining considerable current momentum particularly for patients with chronic illness.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-25
PMCID: PMC3045880  PMID: 21291542
6.  Emergency reversal of anticoagulation: from theory to real use of prothrombin complex concentrates. A retrospective Italian experience 
Blood Transfusion  2012;10(1):87-94.
Background
Prothrombin Complex Concentrates (PCC) are administered to normalise blood coagulation in patients receiving oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT). Rapid reversal of OAT is essential in case of major bleeding, internal haemorrhage or surgery.
The primary end-point was to evaluate whether PCC in our hospital were being used in compliance with international and national guidelines for the reversal of OAT on an emergency basis. The secondary end-point was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of PCC.
Materials and methods
All patients receiving OAT who required rapid reversal anticoagulation because they had to undergo emergency surgery or urgent invasive techniques following an overdose of oral anticoagulants were eligible for this retrospective observational study.
Results
Forty-seven patients receiving OAT who needed rapid reverse of anticoagulation were enrolled in our study. The patients were divided in two groups: (i) group A (n=23), patients needed haemostatic treatment before neurosurgery after a head injury and (ii) group B (n=24), patients with critical haemorrhage because of an overdose of oral anticoagulants. The International Normalised Ratio (INR) was checked before and after infusion of the PCC. The mean INR in group A was 2.7 before and 1.43 after infusion of the PCC; in group B the mean INR of 6.58, before and 1.92 after drug infusion. The use of vitamin K, fresh-frozen plasma and red blood cells was also considered. During our study 22 patients died, but no adverse effects following PCC administration were recorded.
Discussion
In our study three-factor-PCC was found to be effective and safe in rapidly reversing the effects of OAT, although it was not always administered in accordance with international or national guidelines. The dose, time of administration and monitoring often differed from those recommended. In the light of these findings, we advocate the use of single standard protocol to guide the correct use of PCC in each hospital ward.
doi:10.2450/2011.0030-11
PMCID: PMC3258994  PMID: 22044952
prothrombin complex concentrate; oral anticoagulant therapy; reversal of anticoagulation guidelines
7.  Safety and effectiveness of point-of-care monitoring devices in patients on oral anticoagulant therapy: a meta-analysis 
Open Medicine  2007;1(3):e131-e146.
Background
Point-of-care devices (POCDs) for monitoring long-term oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT) may be a useful alternative to laboratory-based international normalized ratio [INR] testing and clinical management.
Purpose
To determine clinical outcomes of the use of POCDs for OAT management by performing a meta-analysis. Previous meta-analyses on POCDs have serious limitations.
Data sources
PubMed, the Cochrane Library, DIALOG, MEDLINE, EMBASE, BIOSIS Previews and PASCAL databases.
Study selection
Randomized controlled trials of patients on long-term OAT, comparing anticoagulation monitoring by POCD with laboratory INR testing and clinical management.
Data extraction
1) rates of major hemorrhage; 2) rates of major thromboembolic events; 3) percentage of time that the patient is maintained within the therapeutic range; 4) deaths. Outcomes were compared using a random-effects model. Summary measures of rates were determined. The quality of studies was assessed using the Jadad scale.
Data synthesis
Seventeen articles (16 studies) were included. Data analysis showed that POCD INR testing reduced the risk of major thromboembolic events (odds ratio [OR] = 0.51; 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.35–0.74), was associated with fewer deaths (OR = 0.58; 95% CI = 0.38–0.89), and resulted in better INR control compared with laboratory INR testing. No significant difference between the two management modalities with respect to odds ratios for major hemorrhage was found.
Limitations
Quality scores varied from 1 to 3 (out of a maximum of 5). Only 3 studies defined how thromboembolic events would be diagnosed, casting doubt on the accuracy of the reporting of thromboembolic events. The studies suggest that only 24% of patients are good candidates for self-testing and self-management. Compared with patients managed with laboratory-based monitoring, POCD patients underwent INR testing at a much higher frequency and received much more intensive education on OAT management.
Conclusions
The use of POCDs is safe and may be more effective than laboratory-based monitoring. However, most patients are not good candidates for self-testing and self-management. Patient education and frequency of testing may be the most important factors in successful PODC management. Definitive conclusions about the clinical benefits provided by self-testing and self-management require more rigorously designed trials.
PMCID: PMC3113217  PMID: 21673942
8.  Factors determining patients’ intentions to use point-of-care testing medical devices for self-monitoring: the case of international normalized ratio self-testing 
Purpose
To identify factors that determine patients’ intentions to use point-of-care medical devices, ie, portable coagulometer devices for self-testing of the international normalized ratio (INR) required for ongoing monitoring of blood-coagulation intensity among patients on long-term oral anticoagulation therapy with vitamin K antagonists, eg, warfarin.
Methods
A cross-sectional study that applied the technology-acceptance model through a self-completed questionnaire, which was administered to a convenience sample of 125 outpatients attending outpatient anticoagulation services at a district general hospital in London, UK. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, factor analyses, and structural equation modeling.
Results
The participants were mainly male (64%) and aged ≥ 71 years (60%). All these patients were attending the hospital outpatient anticoagulation clinic for INR testing; only two patients were currently using INR self-testing, 84% of patients had no knowledge about INR self-testing using a portable coagulometer device, and 96% of patients were never offered the option of the INR self-testing. A significant structural equation model explaining 79% of the variance in patients’ intentions to use INR self-testing was observed. The significant predictors that directly affected patients’ intention to use INR self-testing were the perception of technology (β = 0.92, P < 0.001), trust in doctor (β = −0.24, P = 0.028), and affordability (β = 0.15, P = 0.016). In addition, the perception of technology was significantly affected by trust in doctor (β = 0.43, P = 0.002), age (β = −0.32, P < 0.001), and affordability (β = 0.23, P = 0.013); thereby, the intention to use INR self-testing was indirectly affected by trust in doctor (β = 0.40), age (β = −0.29), and affordability (β = 0.21) via the perception of technology.
Conclusion
Patients’ intentions to use portable coagulometers for INR self-testing are affected by patients’ perceptions about the INR testing device, the cost of device, trust in doctors/clinicians, and the age of the patient, which need to be considered prior to any intervention involving INR self-testing by patients. Manufacturers should focus on increasing the affordability of INR testing devices for patients’ self-testing and on the potential role of medical practitioners in supporting use of these medical devices as patients move from hospital to home testing.
doi:10.2147/PPA.S38328
PMCID: PMC3536357  PMID: 23300344
oral anticoagulation; INR self-testing; technology-acceptance model; trust in doctor; home testing; affordability; structural equation modeling
9.  A new regimen for starting warfarin therapy in out-patients 
Aims
Oral anticoagulation is increasingly used in elderly patients with atrial fibrillation to prevent embolic phenomena. The use of anticoagulants in this population is prophylactic rather than therapeutic and so there is no urgency to establish anticoagulation within the desired therapeutic range. The aim of the study was to develop an out-patient regimen for initiation of oral anticoagulation with warfarin which requires only weekly monitoring of the International Normalized Ratio (INR).
Methods
The study was undertaken in two phases. In the first phase, factors which predict the final maintenance dosage of warfarin were defined and used to build a decision tree and dosage algorithm. In the second study the algorithm was tested. Patients were given 2 mg warfarin daily for 2 weeks and the INR at this time was used to predict the maintenance dose. Patients then attended for weekly measurements of the INR until steady state had been reached. Dosage adjustments were not made unless the INR was >4.0 or <1.5 for 2 consecutive weeks. The accuracy of the prediction was measured by calculating the mean INR of weeks 6–8 and the number of patients in the target range 2.0–3.0 was determined.
Results
One hundred and seven consecutive out-patients (mean age 70 years range 64–86) completed the first study. The age, sex, height, weight, alcohol intake, number of cigarettes smoked, concomitant medication, clinical evidence of right heart failure, liver failure, abnormalities in liver enzyme estimations, baseline INR and INR after 2 weeks of 2 mg warfarin daily were used in a polytomous logistic regression analysis with stepwise inclusion of factors to determine which factors influenced the eventual maintenance dosage of warfarin. The INR after 2 weeks of 2 mg warfarin therapy predicted 70% of the variability of the maintenance dose. Of other factors only the sex of the patient had a large enough effect to be included in the prediction algorithm. One hundred and six patients (mean age 71 years range 50–85 years) completed the second study. Only one patient needed a dose adjustment in the first 2 weeks of warfarin 2 mg daily (INR 4.4). Overall, 60% patients were in the narrow target range (INR 2.0–3.0) at steady state. In five patients the INR was >4.0 at any visit after the second week and needed dosage adjustment. In four patients the INR was <1.5 at steady state.
Conclusions
We have developed a method of predicting the maintenance dose of warfarin in an elderly population based on the INR after 2 weeks of warfarin 2 mg daily, and the sex of the patient. This is a safe and convenient way of initiating warfarin therapy as an out-patient which requires only weekly INR checks.
doi:10.1046/j.1365-2125.1998.00755.x
PMCID: PMC1873664  PMID: 9723825
anticoagulation; atrial fibrillation; warfarin
10.  Monitoring of Anticoagulant Therapy in Heart Disease: Considerations for the Current Assays 
Clinicians should be aware of new developments to familiarize themselves with pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic characteristics of new anticoagulant agents to appropriately and safely use them. For the moment, cardiologists and other clinicians also require to master currently available drugs, realizing the mechanism of action, side effects, and laboratory monitoring to measure their anticoagulant effects. Warfarin and heparin have narrow therapeutic window with high inter- and intra-patient variability, thereby the use of either drug needs careful laboratory monitoring and dose adjustment to ensure proper antithrombotic protection while minimizing the bleeding risk. The prothrombin time (PT) and the activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) are laboratory tests commonly used to monitor warfarin and heparin, respectively. These two tests depend highly on the combination of reagent and instrument utilized. Results for a single specimen tested in different laboratories are variable; this is mostly attributable to the specific reagents and to a much lesser degree to the instrument used. The PT stands alone as the single coagulation test that has undergone the most extensive attempt at assay standardization. The international normalized ratio (INR) was introduced to “normalize” all PT reagents to a World Health Organization (WHO) reference thromboplastin preparation standard, such that a PT measured anywhere in the world would result in an INR value similar to that which would have been achieved had the WHO reference thromboplastin been utilized. However, INRs are reproducible between laboratories for only those patients who are stably anticoagulated with vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) (i.e., at least 6 weeks of VKA therapy), and are not reliable or reproducible between laboratories for patients for whom VKA therapy has recently been started or any other clinical conditions associated with a prolonged PT such as liver disease, disseminated intravascular coagulation, and congenital factor deficiencies. In contrast to marked progress in the standardization of PT reagents for INR reporting, no standardization system has been globally adopted for standardization of PTT reagents. Recently College of American Pathologists recommend that individual laboratories establish their own therapeutic range by using aPTT values calibrated against accepted therapeutic unfractionated heparin (UFH) levels calibrated against accepted therapeutic UFH levels performing anti-Xa test (which is the most accurate assay for monitoring UFH therapy).
Herein, we review recent data on the monitoring of conventional anticoagulant agents. Marked interlaboratory variability still exists for PT, INR, and PTT tests. Further research should be focused on improving the standardization and calibration of these assays.
PMCID: PMC3466827  PMID: 23074569
Anticoagulants; Heart; International normalized ratio; Partial thromboplastin; Prothrombin time
11.  International normalized ratio testing with point-of-care coagulometer in healthy term neonates 
BMC Pediatrics  2014;14:179.
Background
Neonates routinely receive vitamin K to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding, which is associated with a high mortality rate and a high frequency of neurological sequelae. A coagulation screening test might be necessary to detect prophylactic failure or incomplete prophylaxis. However, venous access and the volume of blood required for such testing can be problematic. CoaguChek XS is a portable device designed to monitor prothrombin time while only drawing a small volume of blood. Although the device is used in adults and children, studies have not been performed to evaluate its clinical utility in neonates, and the reference value is unknown in this population. The objectives of the present study were to determine the reference intervals (RIs) for international normalized ratio (INR) using the CoaguChek XS by capillary puncture in healthy term neonates, to evaluate factors that correlate with INR, and to evaluate the device by assessing its ease of use in clinical practice.
Methods
This study included 488 healthy term neonates born at a perinatal center between July 2012 and June 2013. The INRs determined by CoaguChek XS were measured in 4-day-old neonates.
Results
The enrolled neonates were orally administered vitamin K 6-12 h after birth. A RI for INRs in 4-day-old neonates was established using the CoaguChek XS with a median value of 1.10 and a range of 0.90–1.30. A significant difference in the INR was noted between male (median value, 1.10; RI, 0.90–1.30) and female (median value, 1.10; RI, 0.90–1.24) neonates (p = 0.049). The INR was found to correlate with gestational age, birth weight, and hematocrit value.
Conclusions
The CoaguChek XS device is safe, fast, and convenient for performing INR assays in neonates. Our study is the first to establish a RI for INRs that were measured using the CoaguChek XS in healthy term neonates.
doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-179
PMCID: PMC4105760  PMID: 25008798
International normalized ratio; Coagulation screening; Coagulometer; Vitamin K deficiency bleeding; Neonate
12.  Monitoring Anticoagulation in Patients with an Unreliable PT/INR: Factor II versus Chromogenic Factor X Testing 
The International Normalized Ratio (INR) can be unreliable in patients with lupus anticoagulants (LAC) or other conditions affecting baseline testing. Alternative methods to assess anticoagulation on warfarin through measures of vitamin K dependent factor activity by clot based or chromogenic assays may be necessary. In this patient population, the ideal method is unknown.
Methods
Thirty-six patients stable on warfarin with LAC or unreliable INR testing had an INR, a prothrombin time based clotting assay for factor II (FII) activity, and a chromogenic assay for factor X (CFX) activity performed simultaneously.
Results
Eighty-nine sets of measurements were obtained of which 83 sets included all three assays. CFX and FII levels were well correlated (r=0.92) in all patients and in 26 patients with a documented antiphospholipid antibody (r=0.93). Parallel testing was seen in 99% of FII assays. Sixty one percent of CFX and 57% of FII were within the therapeutic range. In 32 CFX and FII pairs where assessment of anticoagulation was discordant, 16 CFX agreed with INR and 13 FII agreed with INR (McNemar’s, χ2=0.14, p=0.7). The number of times tests were discrepant was not statistically different between CFX and FII (p=0.36).
Conclusions
Chromogenic factor X and factor II activity are well correlated in patients that require alternative monitoring of warfarin. Either test can be used in this population.
doi:10.1097/MBC.0000000000000030
PMCID: PMC4350672  PMID: 24681704
Anticoagulation; Antiphospholipid antibody syndrome; Factor II; Chromogenic Factor X; warfarin
13.  Effective and Safe Management of Oral Anticoagulation Therapy in Patients Who Use the Internet-Accessed Telecontrol Tool SintromacWeb 
Background
Despite the existing evidence that highlights the benefits of oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT) self-testing and self-management by patients in comparison with conventional control, significant progress is still needed in the implementation of computer-based, Internet-assisted systems for OAT within health care centers. The telecontrol tool “SintromacWeb” is a previously validated system for OAT management at home, which is currently operative and accessed by patients through a hospital Web portal.
Objective
The intent of the study was to assess the effectiveness and safety of OAT management in patients using the SintromacWeb telecontrol system in reference to control in patients using the conventional system (management at the hematology department), in terms of time in therapeutic range (TTR) of International Normalized Ratio (INR).
Methods
In this observational prospective study, patients were identified by their physician and divided in two groups according to the OAT management system that they were already using (conventional control or telecontrol with SintromacWeb). For 6 months, patients were required to visit the hematology department every time their physician considered it necessary according to usual clinical practice. Sociodemographic and clinical variables for the study were collected at first visit (baseline) and at those visits closest to 2, 4, and 6 months after first visit.
Results
A total of 173 patients were evaluated, 87 with conventional control and 86 with telecontrol. Follow-up time was a median of 6.3 (range 5.2-8.1) months. The average time of OAT treatment prior to enrollment was 9.2 (SD 6.4) years. Patients in the telecontrol group tested their INR a median of 21 (range 4-22) days versus a median of 35 (range 14-45) days in patients in the conventional control group (P<.001). TTR in the telecontrol group was 107 (SD 37) days versus 94 (SD 37) days in the conventional control group (an increase of 12.6%; P=.02). In all visits, the percentage of TTR was higher in the telecontrol group (at the third visit: 59% vs 48%; P=.01). Higher TTR (positive coefficient) was associated with patients under OAT telecontrol (P=.03). Under-anticoagulation (INR<1.5) and over-anticoagulation (INR>5) were observed in 34 (19.7%, 34/173) and 38 (22.0%, 38/173) patients, respectively (no differences between treatment groups). Seven thrombotic and/or bleeding events were serious, 12 were non-serious, and most of them (5 and 10, respectively) occurred in the conventional control group.
Conclusions
In clinical practice, OAT management with the Internet-based tool SintromacWeb is effective and safe for those patients who are eligible for OAT telecontrol.
doi:10.2196/ijmr.3610
PMCID: PMC4420842  PMID: 25900775
oral anticoagulant therapy; International Normalized Ratio; Internet; self-management software; telecontrol; SintromacWeb
14.  Reversal of Vitamin K Antagonist (VKA) effect in patients with severe bleeding: a French multicenter observational study (Optiplex) assessing the use of Prothrombin Complex Concentrate (PCC) in current clinical practice 
Critical Care  2012;16(5):R185.
Introduction
Prothrombin Complex Concentrate (PCC) is a key treatment in the management of bleeding related to Vitamin K antagonists (VKA). This study aimed to evaluate prospectively PCC use in patients with VKA-related bleeding in view of the French guidelines published in 2008.
Methods
All consecutive patients with VKA-related bleeding treated with a 4-factor PCC (Octaplex®) were selected in 33 French hospitals. Collected data included demographics, site and severity of bleeding, modalities of PCC administration, International Normalized Ratio (INR) values before and after PCC administration, outcomes and survival rate 15 days after infusion.
Results
Of 825 patients who received PCC between August 2008 and December 2010, 646 had severe bleeding. The main haemorrhage sites were intracranial (43.7%) and abdominal (24.3%). Mean INR before PCC was 4.4 ± 1.9; INR was unavailable in 12.5% of patients. The proportions of patients who received a PCC dose according to guidelines were 15.8% in patients with initial INR 2-2.5, 41.5% in patients with INR 2.5-3, 40.8% in patients with INR 3-3.5, 26.9% in patients with INR > 3.5, and 63.5% of patients with unknown INR. Vitamin K was administered in 84.7% of patients. The infused dose of PCC did not vary with initial INR; the mean dose was 25.3 ± 9.8 IU/Kg. Rates of controlled bleeding and target INR achievement were similar, regardless of whether or not patients were receiving PCC doses as per the guidelines. No differences in INR after PCC treatment were observed, regardless of whether or not vitamin K was administered. INR was first monitored after a mean time frame of 4.5 ± 5.6 hours post PCC. The overall survival rate at 15 days after PCC infusion was 75.4% (65.1% in patients with intracranial haemorrhage). A better prognosis was observed in patients reaching the target INR.
Conclusions
Severe bleeding related to VKA needs to be better managed, particularly regarding the PCC infused dose, INR monitoring and administration of vitamin K. A dose of 25 IU/kg PCC appears to be efficacious in achieving a target INR of 1.5. Further studies are required to assess whether adjusting PCC dose and/or better management of INR would improve outcomes.
doi:10.1186/cc11669
PMCID: PMC3682287  PMID: 23036234
15.  Use of Prothrombin Complex Concentrate for Vitamin K Antagonist Reversal before Surgical Treatment of Intracranial Hemorrhage 
Background:
Oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT) is used to prevent/treat thromboembolism. Major bleeding is common in patients on OAT; eg, warfarin increases intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) risk.
Case:
A 71-year-old male on warfarin (to reduce stroke risk) presented at Accident and Emergency Minor Injuries Unit with headache after reportedly sounding ‘drunk’. On triage, the patient appeared lucid and well. However, International Normalized Ratio (INR) was 4.1. Head computed tomography (CT) indicated a large right-sided subdural hematoma. Prothrombin complex concentrate (PCC; Beriplex® P/N, CSL Behring) with vitamin K normalized the INR within minutes of administration. The patient underwent neurosurgery without complications, and was discharged after 5 days, with no residual neurological symptoms.
Conclusions:
ICH patients can present with no neurological signs. In OAT patients with headache, INR must be established; if ≥3.0, normalization of INR and head CT are essential. PCC is the best option to rapidly reverse anticoagulation and correct INR pre-surgery.
doi:10.4137/CCRep.S6433
PMCID: PMC3096433  PMID: 21769259
anticoagulation reversal; Beriplex® P/N; computed tomography; International Normalized Ratio; intracranial hemorrhage; prothrombin complex concentrate
16.  Anticoagulants and the Propagation Phase of Thrombin Generation 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27852.
The view that clot time-based assays do not provide a sufficient assessment of an individual's hemostatic competence, especially in the context of anticoagulant therapy, has provoked a search for new metrics, with significant focus directed at techniques that define the propagation phase of thrombin generation. Here we use our deterministic mathematical model of tissue-factor initiated thrombin generation in combination with reconstructions using purified protein components to characterize how the interplay between anticoagulant mechanisms and variable composition of the coagulation proteome result in differential regulation of the propagation phase of thrombin generation. Thrombin parameters were extracted from computationally derived thrombin generation profiles generated using coagulation proteome factor data from warfarin-treated individuals (N = 54) and matching groups of control individuals (N = 37). A computational clot time prolongation value (cINR) was devised that correlated with their actual International Normalized Ratio (INR) values, with differences between individual INR and cINR values shown to derive from the insensitivity of the INR to tissue factor pathway inhibitor (TFPI). The analysis suggests that normal range variation in TFPI levels could be an important contributor to the failure of the INR to adequately reflect the anticoagulated state in some individuals. Warfarin-induced changes in thrombin propagation phase parameters were then compared to those induced by unfractionated heparin, fondaparinux, rivaroxaban, and a reversible thrombin inhibitor. Anticoagulants were assessed at concentrations yielding equivalent cINR values, with each anticoagulant evaluated using 32 unique coagulation proteome compositions. The analyses showed that no anticoagulant recapitulated all features of warfarin propagation phase dynamics; differences in propagation phase effects suggest that anticoagulants that selectively target fXa or thrombin may provoke fewer bleeding episodes. More generally, the study shows that computational modeling of the response of core elements of the coagulation proteome to a physiologically relevant tissue factor stimulus may improve the monitoring of a broad range of anticoagulants.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027852
PMCID: PMC3220702  PMID: 22125631
17.  A French multicenter randomised trial comparing two dose-regimens of prothrombin complex concentrates in urgent anticoagulation reversal 
Critical Care  2013;17(1):R4.
Introduction
Prothrombin complex concentrates (PCC) are haemostatic blood preparations indicated for urgent anticoagulation reversal, though the optimal dose for effective reversal is still under debate. The latest generation of PCCs include four coagulation factors, the so-called 4-factor PCC. The aim of this study was to compare the efficacy and safety of two doses, 25 and 40 IU/kg, of 4-factor PCC in vitamin K antagonist (VKA) associated intracranial haemorrhage.
Methods
We performed a phase III, prospective, randomised, open-label study including patients with objectively diagnosed VKA-associated intracranial haemorrhage between November 2008 and April 2011 in 22 centres in France. Patients were randomised to receive 25 or 40 IU/kg of 4-factor PCC. The primary endpoint was the international normalised ratio (INR) 10 minutes after the end of 4-factor PCC infusion. Secondary endpoints were changes in coagulation factors, global clinical outcomes and incidence of adverse events (AEs).
Results
A total of 59 patients were randomised: 29 in the 25 IU/kg and 30 in the 40 IU/kg group. Baseline demographics and clinical characteristics were comparable between the groups. The mean INR was significantly reduced to 1.2 - and ≤1.5 in all patients of both groups - 10 minutes after 4-factor PCC infusion. The INR in the 40 IU/kg group was significantly lower than in the 25 IU/kg group 10 minutes (P = 0.001), 1 hour (P = 0.001) and 3 hours (P = 0.02) after infusion. The 40 IU/kg dose was also effective in replacing coagulation factors such as PT (P = 0.038), FII (P = 0.001), FX (P <0.001), protein C (P = 0.002) and protein S (0.043), 10 minutes after infusion. However, no differences were found in haematoma volume or global clinical outcomes between the groups. Incidence of death and thrombotic events was similar between the groups.
Conclusions
Rapid infusion of both doses of 4-factor PCC achieved an INR of 1.5 or less in all patients with a lower INR observed in the 40 IU/kg group. No safety concerns were raised by the 40 IU/kg dose. Further trials are needed to evaluate the impact of the high dose of 4-factor PCC on functional outcomes and mortality.
Trial registration
Eudra CT number 2007-000602-73.
doi:10.1186/cc11923
PMCID: PMC4057510  PMID: 23305460
18.  The Clinical Impact of Different Coagulometers on Patient Outcomes 
Advances in Therapy  2014;31(6):639-656.
Introduction
Long-term anticoagulation therapy using vitamin K antagonists (VKA) is used in millions of patients worldwide to reduce the risk of thrombotic or thromboembolic events. Control and monitoring of VKA therapy is improved by the regular self-measurement of international normalized ratio (INR) using a home monitoring device. This retrospective analysis of a large cohort of patients in the Netherlands seeks to determine whether the choice of INR monitor could have a clinical impact on patient outcomes.
Methods
The National Thrombosis Service provides medical supervision, training and support to anticoagulant patients eligible for home-monitoring of INR in the Netherlands. Two INR monitors (CoaguChek XS and INRatio2) have been distributed at random to patients since June 2011, and patient self-testing data (INR measurements and other clinical parameters) have been recorded to measure and improve treatment outcomes. The data have been retrospectively analyzed to determine any effect of the choice of monitor. Univariate and multivariate statistical tests are used to assess any differences between groups in terms of efficacy and safety parameters.
Results
Data from 4,326 patients were collated, and 156,507 INR values were included in the analysis. Over half the patients (54.3%) were being treated for atrial fibrillation, and 77.6% were prescribed acenocoumarol. There were few differences between the patient populations using the two different monitors. Anticoagulant control overall was good, with high percentage of time (87.9%) in the appropriate INR range and low incidence of excessively high or low INR values (0.085/month). Minor clinical events related to safety were low (0.78 per patient-year) and showed few differences between monitors. Mortality rates were similar [hazard ratio (HR) 1.05, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.65–1.70].
Conclusion
Self-testing data from a large cohort of patients in the Netherlands suggest that there is no clinically relevant effect of the choice of coagulation monitor (CoaguChek XS or INRatio2) on the time in therapeutic range (TTR), minor or fatal outcomes of long-term anticoagulation management.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s12325-014-0124-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s12325-014-0124-x
PMCID: PMC4082646  PMID: 24895179
Anticoagulation; CoaguChek XS; INRatio2; International normalized ratio (INR); Patient self-monitoring (PSM); Patient self-testing (PST); Point of care (POC) test (POCT); Time in therapeutic range (TTR); Time in target range; Vitamin K antagonist (VKA)
19.  Correlation between International Normalized Ratio values and sufficiency of two different local hemostatic measures in anticoagulated patients 
European Journal of Dentistry  2014;8(4):475-480.
Objectives:
The management of patients receiving oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT) undergoing minor oral surgeries is controversial. This study was designed to evaluate the correlation between International Normalized Ratio (INR) values and the sufficiency of two different local hemostatic measures in controlling postextraction bleeding in anticoagulated patients.
Materials and Methods:
One hundred and sixty patients receiving Warfarin OAT were included in this study. Patients were selected so that 80 patients have INR values of ≤2, whereas the remaining patients have the INR values ranging from 2 to 3. Forty patients were then randomly selected from each category to form two equal groups. Forty-five patients who had never been on OAT were selected as a negative control group (group 1). Failure to achieve hemostasis using a pressure pack was managed using either tranexamic acid (group 2) or Ankaferd Blood Stopper (ABS) (group 3).
Results:
The INR values of patients included in group 2 and 3 ranged from 1.5 to 3, with a mean of 2.2. No significant difference was recorded between the use of either tranexamic acid or ABS in achieving hemostasis in anticoagulated patients with INR values ranging between 2 and 3 (P = 0.93).
Conclusion:
Based on our findings, ABS is a hemostatic agent of good efficacy. The effect of ABS in controlling post-extraction bleeding in anticoagulated patients with INR values ≤3 is comparable to tranexamic acid with no evidence to support the superiority of tranexamic acid over ABS.
doi:10.4103/1305-7456.143628
PMCID: PMC4253102  PMID: 25512727
Gel foam; postextraction bleeding; tranexamic acid; warfarin; ankaferd
20.  Personalized versus non-personalized computerized decision support system to increase therapeutic quality control of oral anticoagulant therapy: an alternating time series analysis 
Background
The quality control of oral anticoagulant therapy (OAT) during the initiation and maintenance treatment is generally poor. Physicians' ordering of OAT (especially fluindione and warfarin) can be improved by dose adjustment algorithms, taking into account the results of International Normalized Ratio (INR). Reminders at the point of care, computerized or not, have been demonstrated to be effective in changing physicians prescription behavior.
However, few studies have addressed the benefit of personalized reminders versus non personalized reminders, whereas the personalized reminders require more development to access patient record data and integrate with the computerized physician order entry system.
The Hospital Information System of George Pompidou European Hospital integrates an electronic medical record, lab test and drugs order entry system. This system allows to evaluate such reminders and to consider their implementation for routine use as well as the continuous evaluation of their impact on medical practice quality indicators.
The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of two types of reminders on overtreatment by oral anticoagulant: a simple reminder of text formatted dose adjustment table and a personalized recommendation for oral anticoagulant dose and next date of INR control, adapted to patient data. Both types of reminders appear to the physician at the moment of drug ordering.
Methods
The study is an alternating time series experiment with three 6 months periods, each one including every 2 months according to a Latin square scheme: a control period without any reminder, a period with the simple non personalized reminder, a period with personalized reminder. All patients hospitalized in departments using the computerized physician order entry system and ordered fluindione or warfarin, will be included in the study between November 2004 and May 2006.
Main outcome will be the proportion of overcoagulation, as expressed by the proportion of observation time with INR over 4.5, assuming INR change linearly. Secondary outcome is the incidence of major haemorrhagic events. Data will be collected thanks to Hospital Information Systems databases.
Data will be analyzed taking into account patient and physician clustering effect.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-4-27
PMCID: PMC526261  PMID: 15456515
21.  Increased international normalized ratio level in hepatocellular carcinoma patients with diabetes mellitus 
AIM: To determine the association of diabetes mellitus (DM) and international normalized ratio (INR) level in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients.
METHODS: Our present study included 375 HCC patients who were treated at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Ministry of Health (Beijing, China), in the period from January 2003 to April 2012, and with a hospital discharge diagnosis of HCC. The demographic, clinical, laboratory, metabolic and instrumental features were analyzed. χ2 test, Student’s t test and Mann-Whitney U test were used to compare the differences between HCC patients with and without DM. Unconditional multivariable logistic regression analysis was used to determine the association of DM and INR level in HCC patients. A sub-group analysis was performed to assess the effect of liver cirrhosis or hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection on the results. The Pearson correlation test was used to determine the relationship between INR level and fasting glucose. In addition, association between diabetes duration, and diabetes treatment and INR level was determined considering the potentially different effects.
RESULTS: Of the total, 63 (16.8%) patients were diabetic (diabetic group) and 312 (83.2%) patients were diagnosed without diabetes (non-diabetic group). Their mean age was 56.4 ± 11.0 years and 312 (83.2%) patients were male. Compared with patients without DM, the HCC patients with diabetes were older (59.5 ± 10.3 vs 55.8 ± 11.1, P = 0.015), had a lower incidence of HBV infection (79.4% vs 89.1%, P = 0.033), had increased levels of systolic blood pressure (SBP) (133 ± 17 vs 129 ± 16 mmHg, P = 0.048) and INR (1.31 ± 0.44 vs 1.18 ± 0.21, P = 0.001), had lower values of hemoglobin (124.4 ± 23.9 vs 134.2 ± 23.4, P = 0.003) and had a platelet count (median/interquartile-range: 113/64-157 vs 139/89-192, P = 0.020). There was no statistically significant difference in the percentages of males, overweight or obesity, drinking, smoking, cirrhosis and Child classification. After controlling for the confounding effects of age, systolic blood pressure, hemoglobin, platelet count and HBV infection by logistic analyses, INR was shown as an independent variable [odds ratio (OR) = 3.650; 95%CI: 1.372-9.714, P = 0.010]. Considering the effect of liver cirrhosis on results, a sub-group analysis was performed and the study population was restricted to those patients with cirrhosis. Univariate analysis showed that diabetic patients had a higher INR than non-diabetic patients (1.43 ± 0.51 vs 1.25 ± 0.23, P = 0.041). After controlling for confounding effect of age, SBP, hemoglobin, platelet count and HBV infection by logistic analyses, INR level remained as the sole independent variable (OR = 5.161; 95%CI: 1.618-16.455, P = 0.006). No significant difference in the relationship between INR level and fasting glucose was shown by Pearson test (r = 0.070, P = 0.184). Among the 63 diabetic patients, 35 (55.6%) patients had been diagnosed with DM for more than 5 years, 23 (36.5%) received oral anti-diabetic regimens, 11 (17.5%) received insulin, and 30 (47.6%) reported relying on diet alone to control serum glucose levels. No significant differences were found for the association between DM duration/treatment and INR level, except for the age at diabetes diagnosis.
CONCLUSION: The INR level was increased in HCC patients with DM and these patients should be monitored for the coagulation function in clinical practice.
doi:10.3748/wjg.v19.i15.2395
PMCID: PMC3631993  PMID: 23613635
International normalized ratio; Coagulation function; Diabetes mellitus; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Chinese patients
22.  INR reduction after prothrombin complex concentrate (Co-fact©) administration: comparison of INR outcomes in different patient categories at the emergency department 
Background
Co-fact©, prothrombin complex concentrate, is used for restoring the international normalized ratio (INR) in patients on vitamin K antagonists (VKA) presenting with acute bleeding. In this prospective cohort study, we evaluated whether adequate INR values were reached in ED patients using the Sanquin (Federation of Dutch Thrombosis Services) treatment protocol.
Methods
We evaluated this protocol for two target INR groups: group 1, target INR ≤ 1.5 (for life-threatening bleeding/immediate intervention); group 2, target INR 1.6-2.1 (in cases of a minor urgent surgery or serious overdosing of anticoagulant). We specifically wanted to identify both under- and over-treated patients. Reversing VKA anticoagulation therapy to unnecessarily low INR values may involve thrombotic risks. Apart from this risk, the patient is also administered an excess amount of the drug. This means unnecessary costs and may present problems with restoring an anticoagulated state at a later time.
Results
In our cohort, the Sanquin dosing protocol was followed for 45/60 patients. It appeared that out of the 41 patients in group 1 (target INR ≤ 1.5), 35 (85%) achieved the goal INR. This occurred more often than for the 19 patients in group 2 (target INR 1.6–2.1), where only 6 (32%) achieved the goal INR. Using the protocol resulted in a positive trend toward better INR reversal in group 1.
In group 2, no relation between using the protocol and achieving the desired INR value was detected. Physicians ignoring the proposed dose of Co-fact© prescribed significantly less Co-fact© (even when correcting for patient weight). It appeared that patients in group 1 had a significantly lower baseline INR than patients in group 2. Group 2 patients, on the other hand, had a baseline INR > 7.5 in 53% of the cases.
Conclusion
In our cohort, for most patients in INR group 2 treated with Co-fact©, the achieved INR value was outside the desired range of 1.6-2.1. The supra-therapeutic range of baseline INR in group 2 may have contributed to the different kind of bleeding witnessed in this patient group.
Our results support the idea that treatment of patients on vitamin K antagonists with Co-fact© could benefit from a slightly different approach, taking into account the INR value to which the patient needs to be reversed.
doi:10.1186/1865-1380-6-14
PMCID: PMC3655866  PMID: 23663356
23.  International Normalized Ratio Stability in Warfarin-Experienced Patients with Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation 
Background
Maintaining stable levels of anticoagulation using warfarin therapy is challenging. Few studies have examined the stability of the international normalized ratio (INR) in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) who have had ≥6 months’ exposure to warfarin anticoagulation for stroke prevention.
Objective
Our objective was to describe INR control in NVAF patients who had been receiving warfarin for at least 6 months.
Methods
Using retrospective patient data from the CoagClinic™ database, we analyzed data from NVAF patients treated with warfarin to assess the quality of INR control and possible predictors of poor INR control. Time within, above, and below the recommended INR range (2.0–3.0) was calculated for patients who had received warfarin for ≥6 months and had three or more INR values. The analysis also assessed INR patterns and resource utilization of patients with an INR >4.0. Logistic regression models were used to determine factors associated with poor INR control.
Results
Patients (n = 9433) had an average of 1.6 measurements per 30 days. Mean follow-up time was 544 days. Approximately 39 % of INR values were out of range, with 23 % of INR values being <2.0 and 16 % being >3.0. Mean percent time with INR in therapeutic range was 67 %; INR <2.0 was 19 % and INR >3.0 was 14 %. Patients with more than one reading of INR >4.0 (~39 %) required an average of one more visit and took 3 weeks to return to an in-range INR. Male sex and age >75 years were predictive of better INR control, whereas a history of heart failure or diabetes were predictive of out-of-range INR values. However, patient characteristics did not predict the likelihood of INR >4.0.
Conclusions
Out-of-range INR values remain frequent in patients with NVAF treated with warfarin. Exposure to high INR values was common, resulting in increased resource utilization.
doi:10.1007/s40256-015-0120-9
PMCID: PMC4451756  PMID: 25944648
24.  Effect of gamma irradiation with 30 gy on the coagulation system in leukoreduced fresh frozen plasma 
Background
Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP) is a blood component prepared from whole blood or from apheresis donation. Donor leukocytes including lymphocytes are present in FFP in significant numbers inspite of freezing, responsible for Transfusion Associated Graft versus Host Disease (TA-GvHD).
Study design and methods
75 units of FFP prepared at our centre were analysed. After thawing of FFP a small aliquot was made under sterile conditions and another after irradiating the product. In both the parts, variables of haemostasis were measured in parallel, using automated coagulation analyser. Activated partial thromboplastin time (APTT), prothrombin time (PT), International Normalized Ratio (INR), Thrombin time (TT), coagulation factors FI, FII, FV, FVIII, FIX, FX, FXI, FXII, vWF Ag, inhibitors of coagulation (protein C & S) and d-dimer were measured.
Results
Gamma irradiation of FFP with 30 Gy resulted in weak activation of coagulation system which was evident in the form of shortening of PT, APTT and TT. The activity of coagulation factors FIX, FX, FXI, and FXII were significantly raised after irradiation. No reduction in the activity of inhibitors of coagulation (protein C & S) or increase in d-dimers was observed following irradiation of FFP.
Conclusion
Gamma irradiation of FFP with 30 Gy resulted in a significant but very weak alteration of coagulation system in FFP.
doi:10.1016/j.mjafi.2012.07.018
PMCID: PMC3862717  PMID: 24532932
Fresh Frozen Plasma (FFP); Transfusion associated graft versus host disease (TA-GvHD); Gamma irradiation
25.  The pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and tolerability of dabigatran etexilate, a new oral direct thrombin inhibitor, in healthy male subjects 
Aims
The novel direct thrombin inhibitor (DTI), dabigatran etexilate (Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG), shows potential as an oral antithrombotic agent. Two double-blind, randomized trials were undertaken to investigate the pharmacokinetics (PK), pharmacodynamics (PD) and tolerability of orally administered dabigatran etexilate in healthy male subjects.
Methods
Dabigatran etexilate or placebo was administered orally at single doses of 10–400 mg (n = 40) or at multiple doses of 50–400 mg three times daily for 6 days (n = 40). Plasma and urine samples were collected over time to determine the PK profile of dabigatran. PD activity was assessed by its effects on blood coagulation parameters: activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT), prothrombin time (PT), reported as international normalized ratio (INR), thrombin time (TT), and ecarin clotting time (ECT). All adverse events were recorded.
Results
Dabigatran etexilate was rapidly absorbed with peak plasma concentrations of dabigatran reached within 2 h of administration. This was followed by a rapid distribution/elimination phase and a terminal phase, with associated estimated half-lives of 8–10 h and 14–17 h with single and multiple dose administrations, respectively. Dabigatran exhibited linear PK characteristics with dose-proportional increases observed in maximum plasma concentration and area under the curve. Steady-state conditions were reached within 3 days with multiple dosing. The mean apparent volume of distribution during the terminal phase (Vz/F) of 1860 l (range 1430–2400 l) and the apparent total clearance after oral administration (CLtot/F) of 2031 ml min−1 (range 1480–2430), were dose independent. Time curves for aPTT, INR, TT and ECT paralleled plasma concentration–time curves with values increasing rapidly and in a dose-dependent manner. At the highest dose of 400 mg administered three times daily, maximum prolongations over baseline of 3.1 (aPTT), 3.5 (INR), 29 (TT) and 9.5-fold (ECT) were observed. Dabigatran underwent conjugation with glucuronic acid to form pharmacologically active conjugates that accounted for approximately 20% of total dabigatran in plasma. Overall, variability in PK parameters was low to moderate, with an average interindividual coefficient of variation (CV) of approximately 30% and variability in PD parameters was low, with CV < 10%. Of the four assays, TT and ECT exhibited the greatest sensitivity and precision within the anticipated therapeutic dose range. Bleeding events were few and were mild-to-moderate in intensity, occurring only in the higher, multiple dose groups.
Conclusions
These data suggest that dabigatran etexilate is a promising novel oral DTI with predictable PK and PD characteristics and good tolerability. Further investigation of dabigatran etexilate for the treatment and prophylaxis of patients with arterial and venous thromboembolic disorders, acute coronary syndromes and other medical conditions is warranted.
doi:10.1111/j.1365-2125.2007.02899.x
PMCID: PMC2000643  PMID: 17506785
activated partial thromboplastin time; dabigatran; dabigatran etexilate; direct thrombin inhibitor; ecarin clotting time; pharmacodynamics

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