Conference Coverage

Are providers asking about menstrual bleeding before/during anticoagulant therapy?



– A small study suggests health care providers may fail to ask patients about heavy menstrual bleeding before or during treatment with oral anticoagulants.

Dr. Bethany T. Samuelson Bannow, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland Jennifer Smith/MDedge News

Dr. Bethany T. Samuelson Bannow

Researchers performed a chart review at a single center, which indicated that 60% of women were not asked about heavy menstrual bleeding before they were prescribed an oral anticoagulant.

Six months after the women started anticoagulant therapy, 29% required treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding. Charts for the remaining 71% of women contained no information about heavy menstrual bleeding.

“We were unable to distinguish between true absence of heavy menstrual bleeding and absence of reporting,” said Bethany T. Samuelson Bannow, MD, of Oregon Health & Science University, Portland.

Dr. Samuelson Bannow presented these findings at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

She explained that heavy menstrual bleeding is defined as more than 80 mL of blood loss per cycle. It affects 10%-15% of women in their lifetime, and anticoagulants increase the risk of heavy menstrual bleeding.

Studies have shown that heavy menstrual bleeding occurs in 22%-65% of women treated with vitamin K agonists and 20%-27% of women treated with rivaroxaban (Blood. 2017;130[24]:2603-9). However, many anticoagulant studies don’t include heavy menstrual bleeding as an outcome.

To gain more insight, Dr. Samuelson Bannow and colleagues conducted a chart review. Their study included 236 women of reproductive age treated at Oregon Health & Science University between Jan. 1, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2018.

The patients’ median age was 37 years (range, 18-50 years). Most patients (67%) were receiving an oral anticoagulant for venous thromboembolism. The rest were on anticoagulant therapy for arterial thrombosis (6%), atrial fibrillation (6%), a mechanical valve (1%), or “other” reasons (20%).

Dr. Samuelson Bannow said the other group was “almost exclusively women who were receiving prophylaxis” postoperatively or for travel. Most women in this group were receiving rivaroxaban.

Rivaroxaban was the most commonly prescribed anticoagulant in the entire cohort (41%), followed by warfarin (34%) and apixaban (25%).

At the time of anticoagulant prescription, 12% of women reported a history of heavy menstrual bleeding, and 28% did not. For most patients – 60% – there was no discussion of menstrual history documented.

Six months after starting oral anticoagulant therapy, 29% of patients required treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding. For 71% of patients, there was no documentation on the treatment of heavy menstrual bleeding.

Treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding was required in 33% of patients on rivaroxaban, 24% of those on apixaban, and 29% of those on warfarin, a significant difference (P less than .001).

“Rates of heavy menstrual bleeding … are higher in rivaroxaban users,” Dr. Samuelson Bannow said. “This is not the first study to demonstrate this. However, [the rate of heavy menstrual bleeding in this study] is still a lot lower than we would expect based on past levels with warfarin. This tells us we’re probably missing a lot of heavy menstrual bleeding. That’s not too surprising considering how few providers are actually asking about the menses.”

Dr. Samuelson Bannow and colleagues disclosed no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: Samuelson Bannow BT et al. ASH 2019, Abstract 60.

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