Near-patient testing has made self-monitoring of anticoagulation with warfarin feasible, and several trials have suggested that such monitoring might be equal to or better than standard monitoring. We did a systematic review and meta-analysis of all randomised controlled trials that assessed the effects of self-monitoring or self-management (self-testing and self-dosage) of anticoagulation compared with standard monitoring.
We searched the Cochrane Register of Controlled Trials, MEDLINE, EMBASE to April 2005, and contacted manufacturers and authors of relevant studies. Outcomes analysed were: major haemorrhage, thromboembolic events, death, tests in range, minor haemorrhage, frequency of testing, and feasibility of self-monitoring.
We identified 14 randomised trials of self-monitoring: pooled estimates showed significant reductions in thromboembolic events (odds ratio 0·45, 95% CI 0·30—0·68), all-cause mortality (0·61, 0·38—0·98), and major haemorrhage (0·65, 0·42—0·99). Trials of combined self-monitoring and self-adjusted therapy showed significant reductions in thromboembolic events (0·27, 0·12—0·59) and death (0·37, 0·16—0·85), but not major haemorrhage (0·93, 0·42—2·05). No difference was noted in minor haemorrhage. 11 trials reported improvements in the mean proportion of international normalisation ratios in range.
Self-management improves the quality of oral anticoagulation. Patients capable of self-monitoring and self-adjusting therapy have fewer thromboembolic events and lower mortality than those who self-monitor alone. However, self-monitoring is not feasible for all patients, and requires identification and education of suitable candidates.
- oral anticoagulation,
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