We have conducted a retrospective study on the reasons for discontinuing anticoagulants in 50 patients over the age of 75 years compared with 198 adults under 75 years to determine the safety of therapy in the elderly. Venous thromboembolism and arterial embolization were the most common indications for therapy in the elderly and the median duration of therapy in all patients was 7 months (9 days-22 years). There were no deaths attributable to anticoagulants. There was no significant difference in the proportion of elderly patients who stopped treatment because of bleeding compared with 198 patients under 75 years (5/50 (10%) vs 12/198 (6.1%), P = 0.26), nor in the rate of bleeding between the two groups (5/52.5 (9.5%) treatment-years vs 12/249 (4.8%) treatment-years, P = 0.15). This complication rate does not suggest that age per se is a risk factor in the use of oral anticoagulants.
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