Anticoagulant use in older persons at risk for falls: therapeutic dilemmas—a clinical review

Anneka Mitchell, Yasmin Elmasry, Eveline van Poelgeest, Tomas J. Welsh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (SciVal)


Purpose: The aim of this clinical narrative review was to summarise the existing knowledge on the use of anticoagulants and potential adverse events in older people at risk of falls with a history of atrial fibrillation or venous thromboembolism. The review also offers practical steps prescribers can take when (de-)prescribing anticoagulants to maximise safety. Methods: Literature searches were conducted using PubMed, Embase and Scopus. Additional articles were identified by searching reference lists. Results: Anticoagulants are often underused in older people due to concerns about the risk of falls and intracranial haemorrhage. However, evidence suggests that the absolute risk is low and outweighed by the reduction in stroke risk. DOACs are now recommended first line for most patients due to their favourable safety profile. Off-label dose reduction of DOACs is not recommended due to reduced efficacy with limited reduction in bleeding risk. Medication review and falls prevention strategies should be implemented before prescribing anticoagulation. Deprescribing should be considered in severe frailty, limited life expectancy and increased bleeding risk (e.g., cerebral microbleeds). Conclusion: When considering whether to (de-)prescribe anticoagulants, it is important to consider the risks associated with stopping therapy in addition to potential adverse events. Shared decision-making with the patient and their carers is crucial as patient and prescriber views often differ.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalEuropean Geriatric Medicine
Early online date1 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

No funding was received for conducting this study.


  • Anticoagulants
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Deprescribing
  • Falls
  • Geriatric
  • Venous thrombosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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