Thromboembolism and bleeding in patients with atrial fibrillation and liver disease - a nationwide register-based cohort study: Thromboembolism and bleeding in liver disease

Kamilla Steensig, Manan Pareek, Anne Lund Krarup, Peter Sogaard, Michael Maeng, Bhupendar Tayal, Christina Ji-Young Lee, Christian Torp-Pedersen, Gregory Yh Lip, Peter Holland-Fischer, Kristian Hay Kragholm


BACKGROUND: Balancing the risk of thromboembolism and bleeding in patients with liver disease and atrial fibrillation/flutter is particularly challenging.

PURPOSE: To examine the risks of thromboembolism and bleeding with use/non-use of oral anticoagulation (including vitamin K-antagonists and direct oral anticoagulants) in patients with liver disease and AF.

METHODS: Danish nationwide register-based cohort study of anticoagulant naive individuals with liver disease, incident atrial fibrillation/flutter, and a CHA2DS2-VASc-score≥1 (men) or ≥2 (women), alive 30 days after atrial fibrillation/flutter diagnosis. Thromboembolism was a composite of ischaemic stroke, transient ischaemic attack, or venous thromboembolism. Bleeding was a composite of gastrointestinal, intracerebral, or urogenital bleeding requiring hospitalisation, or epistaxis requiring emergency department visit or hospital admission. Cause-specific Cox-regression was used to estimate absolute risks and average risk ratios standardised to covariate distributions. Because of significant interactions with anticoagulants, results for thromboembolism were stratified for CHA2DS2-VASc-score, and results for bleeding were stratified for cirrhotic/non-cirrhotic liver disease.

RESULTS: Four hundred and nine of 1,238 patients with liver disease and new atrial fibrillation/flutter initiated anticoagulants. Amongst patients with a CHA2DS2-VASc-score of 1-2 (2-3 for women), five-year thromboembolism incidence rates were low and similar in the anticoagulant (6.5%) versus no anticoagulant (5.5%) groups (average risk ratio 1.19 [95%CI, 0.22-2.16]). In patients with a CHA2DS2-VASc-score>2 (>3 for women), incidence rates were 16% versus 24% (average risk ratio 0.66 [95%CI, 0.45-0.87]). Bleeding risks appeared higher amongst patients with cirrhotic versus non-cirrhotic disease but were not significantly affected by anticoagulant status.

CONCLUSION: Oral anticoagulant initiation in patients with liver disease, incident new atrial fibrillation/flutter, and a high CHA2DS2-VASc-score was associated with a reduced thromboembolism risk. Bleeding risk was not increased with anticoagulation, irrespective of the type of liver disease.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101952
JournalClinics and Research in Hepatology and Gastroenterology
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)101952
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


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