Vitamin K for reversal of excessive vitamin K antagonist anticoagulation: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Rasha Khatib, Maja Ludwikowska, Daniel M. Witt, Jack Ansell, Nathan P. Clark, Anne Holbrook, Wojtek Wiercioch, Holger Schünemann and Robby Nieuwlaat


Patients receiving vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) with an international normalized ratio (INR) between 4.5 and 10 are at increased risk of bleeding. We systematically reviewed the literature to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of administering vitamin K in patients receiving VKA therapy with INR between 4.5 and 10 and without bleeding. Medline, Embase, and Cochrane databases were searched for relevant randomized controlled trials in April 2018. Search strategy included terms vitamin K administration and VKA-related terms. Reference lists of relevant studies were reviewed, and experts in the field were contacted for relevant papers. Two investigators independently screened and collected data. Risk ratios (RRs) were calculated, and certainty of the evidence was assessed using Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation. Six studies (1074 participants) were included in the review and meta-analyses. Pooled estimates indicate a nonsignificant increased risk of mortality (RR = 1.42; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.62-2.47), bleeding (RR = 2.24; 95% CI, 0.81-7.27), and thromboembolism (RR = 1.29; 95% CI, 0.35-4.78) for vitamin K administration, with moderate certainty of the evidence resulting from serious imprecision as CIs included potential for benefit and harm. Patients receiving vitamin K had a nonsignificant increase in the likelihood of reaching goal INR (1.95; 95% CI, 0.88-4.33), with very low certainty of the evidence resulting from serious risk of bias, inconsistency, and imprecision. Our findings indicate that patients on VKA therapy who have an INR between 4.5 and 10.0 without bleeding are not likely to benefit from vitamin K administration in addition to temporary VKA cessation.

  • Submitted August 23, 2018.
  • Accepted January 26, 2019.
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