Aims: To examine the risk of gastrointestinal (GI) bleeding, major bleeding, stroke and systemic embolism associated with prescribing nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to adults receiving oral anticoagulant (OAC) therapy. Methods: We conducted a population-based cohort study in adults receiving OAC therapy using linked primary care (Clinical Practice Research Datalink GOLD) and hospital (Hospital Episodes Statistics) electronic health records. We used cause-specific Cox regression models with time-dependent NSAID treatment in a propensity score matched population to estimate the increased risk of GI bleeding, stroke, major bleeding and systemic embolism associated with NSAID use. Results: The matched cohort contained 3177 patients with OAC therapy alone and 3177 with at least 1 concomitant NSAID prescription. Compared with OAC therapy alone, concomitant prescription of NSAIDs with OACs was associated with increased risk of GI bleeding (hazard ratio [HR] 3.01, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.63 to 5.55), stroke (HR 2.71, 95% CI 1.48 to 4.96) and major bleeding (HR 2.77, 95% CI 1.84 to 4.19). The association with systemic embolism did not reach statistical significance (HR 3.02, 95% CI 0.82 to 11.07). Sensitivity analyses indicated that the results were robust to changes in exclusion criteria and the choice of potential confounding variables. Conclusion: When OACs are coprescribed with NSAIDs, the risk of adverse bleeding events increases and, simultaneously, the protective effect of OACs to prevent strokes reduces. There is a need for interventions that reduce hazardous prescribing of NSAIDs in people receiving OAC therapy.
- medication safety
- patient safety