• anticoagulants;
  • warfarin;
  • heparin;
  • fondaparinux;
  • factor Xa inhibitor;
  • direct thrombin inhibitors;
  • limitations;
  • advantages

Warfarin and unfractionated heparin have been in clinical use for more than 50 years. Both are effective anticoagulants, but their use is associated with a number of impediments, including the need for intensive coagulation monitoring, wide variation in dose-response relationships, multiple drug interactions (in the case of warfarin), and serious immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (in the case of heparin). The introduction of low-molecular-weight heparins 10 years ago advanced anticoagulation therapy by enhancing efficacy and eliminating the need for intensive coagulation monitoring. Fondaparinux, the first selective factor Xa inhibitor, represents yet another improvement in anticoagulation therapy with even greater efficacy and safety.