Background: The treatment of patients at increased risk for arterial thromboembolism who require temporary interruption of warfarin sodium therapy is a common clinical problem. We investigated the efficacy and safety of a standardized periprocedural anticoagulation regimen with low-molecular-weight heparin.
Methods: We studied 650 consecutive patients with a mechanical heart valve, chronic atrial fibrillation, or embolic stroke who required interruption of warfarin therapy because of an invasive procedure. Warfarin was stopped 5 or 6 days before the procedure, and patients received subcutaneous dalteparin sodium, 100 IU/kg twice daily, starting 3 days before the procedure. The risk of postprocedural bleeding determined postprocedural anticoagulant management. In patients undergoing a non-high-bleeding-risk procedure who had adequate postprocedural hemostasis, warfarin was resumed on the evening of the procedure, and dalteparin sodium, 100 IU/kg twice daily, was resumed on the next day and continued until the international normalized ratio was 2.0 or more. If postprocedural hemostasis was not secured, the resumption of dalteparin was delayed. In patients undergoing a high-bleeding-risk procedure, warfarin was resumed on the evening of the procedure, but dalteparin was not given after the procedure.
Results: Patients were followed up during the preprocedural and postprocedural period for a mean of 13.8 days (range, 10-18 days). In 542 patients who underwent a non-high-bleeding-risk procedure, there were 2 thromboembolic events (0.4%), 4 major bleeding episodes (0.7%), and 32 episodes of increased wound-related blood loss that precluded postprocedural dalteparin administration (5.9%). In 108 patients who underwent a high-bleeding-risk procedure, there were 2 deaths (1.8%) possibly due to thromboembolism and 2 major bleeding episodes (1.8%).
Conclusions: In patients at increased risk for arterial thromboembolism who require temporary interruption of warfarin therapy, a standardized periprocedural anticoagulant regimen with low-molecular-weight heparin is associated with a low risk of thromboembolic and major bleeding complications.