In sepsis, the coagulation system is often systemically activated in combination with the simultaneous impairment of fibrinolysis and anticoagulant systems. Since this hypercoagulable state often leads to disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC), an independent predictor of mortality in critically ill patients, the appropriate management of DIC itself is a crucial part of treatment strategies for severe sepsis. In this context, the Japanese Association of Acute Medicine (JAAM) scoring system for DIC has been proposed as a valid test for diagnosing DIC; this system is also expected to aid in devising specifically tailored management strategies. Anticoagulant therapy is commonly given to septic patients with DIC as part of the standard care in Japan. More recently, antithrombin concentrate and recombinant thrombomodulin have become the two major anticoagulant agents of choice. In relation to the use of antithrombin, recent studies have indicated that the recovery of antithrombin activity to within the normal range (>70 %) is necessary if supplementation therapy is to provide a favorable outcome. Recombinant thrombomodulin is slightly more controversial, with favorable results being greater among severe cases of DIC. In the present review, we summarize recent clinical advances in anticoagulant therapy for sepsis-associated DIC.
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