Respiratory tract infection and risk of bleeding in oral anticoagulant users: Self-controlled case series
Ahmed H., Whitaker H., Farewell D., Hippisley-Cox J., Noble S.
Objective To estimate the association between untreated, community acquired, respiratory tract infections and bleeding in oral anticoagulant users. Design Self-controlled case series. Setting General practices in England contributing data to the Clinical Practice Research Datalink GOLD. Participants 1208 adult users of warfarin or direct oral anticoagulants with a general practice or hospital admission record of a bleeding event between January 2010 and December 2019, and a general practice record of a consultation for a community acquired respiratory tract infection for which immediate antibiotics were not prescribed (that is, untreated). Main outcome measures Relative incidence of major bleeding and clinically relevant non-major bleeding in the 0-14 days after an untreated respiratory tract infection, compared to unexposed time periods. Results Of 1208 study participants, 58% (n=701) were male, median age at time of first bleed was 79 years (interquartile range 72-85), with a median observation period of 2.4 years (interquartile range 1.3-3.8). 292 major bleeds occurred during unexposed time periods and 41 in the 0-14 days after consultation for a respiratory tract infection. 1003 clinically relevant non-major bleeds occurred during unexposed time periods and 81 in the 0-14 days after consultation for a respiratory tract infection. After adjustment for age, season, and calendar year, the relative incidence of major bleeding (incidence rate ratio 2.68, 95% confidence interval 1.83 to 3.93) and clinically relevant non-major bleeding (2.32, 1.82 to 2.94) increased in the 0-14 days after an untreated respiratory tract infection. Findings were robust to several sensitivity analyses and did not differ by sex or type of oral anticoagulant. Conclusions This study observed a greater than twofold increase in the risk of bleeding during the 0-14 days after an untreated respiratory tract infection. These findings have potential implications for how patients and clinicians manage oral anticoagulant use during an acute intercurrent illness and warrant further investigation into the potential risks and how they might be mitigated.