Electroconvulsive therapy in patients on anticoagulants

Can J Psychiatry. 1982 Feb;27(1):46-8. doi: 10.1177/070674378202700110.


Despite studies in the early literature showing that ECT may lead to CNS bleeding, it is unclear whether unmodified ECT increases the risk for hemorrhage in patients taking anticoagulants. The authors report two cases of depressed patients who required ECT while on coumarin derivatives. Both patients were switched to heparin. Heparin's short duration of action allowed temporary discontinuation 6-8 hours prior to each ECT with return of coagulation function close to normal when the stimulus was administered. No complications were observed in any of the patients. The authors believe that this technique minimizes any possible risks from ECT in patients on anticoagulants.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage*
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy* / adverse effects
  • Hemorrhage / etiology
  • Hemorrhage / prevention & control*
  • Heparin / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Risk
  • Warfarin / administration & dosage


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin
  • Heparin