Perioperative anticoagulation in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation who are undergoing elective surgery: results of a physician survey.
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OBJECTIVE: To survey physicians' anticoagulation preferences in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation who are undergoing elective surgery. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A survey was performed that asked physicians to provide pre- and postoperative anticoagulation preferences for two clinical scenarios of patients with chronic atrial fibrillation (high stroke risk, low stroke risk) undergoing elective surgery. In addition to the interruption of warfarin therapy, perioperative anticoagulation options were as follows: a) in-hospital full dose intravenous heparin; b) outpatient full dose subcutaneous unfractionated heparin or low molecular weight heparin (LMWH); c) low dose unfractionated heparin or LMWH (postoperative only); d) nothing other than stopping warfarin preoperatively and restarting it postoperatively; or e) another anticoagulant strategy. RESULTS: In the high stroke risk scenario, the proportions of respondents preferring anticoagulation options a, b, d and e in the preoperative period were 24%, 20%, 54% and 2%, respectively; the proportions preferring options a, b, c, d and e in the postoperative period were 35%, 13%, 15%, 35% and 1%, respectively. In the low stroke risk scenario, the proportions of respondents preferring options a, b, d and e in the preoperative period were 7%, 10%, 80% and 3%, respectively; the proportions preferring options a, b, c, d and e in the postoperative period were 11%, 9%, 10%, 68% and 2%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: In patients with chronic atrial fibrillation who underwent elective surgery, perioperative anticoagulant management preferences varied widely in patients at high risk for stroke, but were more uniform and less aggressive in patients at low risk for stroke.
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