Perioperative Management of Patients Receiving Anticoagulant or Antiplatelet Therapy: A Clinician-Oriented and Practical Approach
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The management of patients who are receiving warfarin, aspirin, clopidogrel, or combinations of these drugs and require their interruption because of an elective surgical or other invasive procedure is a common and sometimes challenging clinical problem. For the practicing clinician, there are 2 key issues for perioperative anticoagulant management: 1) having an approach to stratify patients according to their risk for thromboembolism when warfarin or antiplatelet drug therapy is interrupted, and also having an approach to stratify patients according to the risk of bleeding associated with the surgery or procedure; and 2) determining which patients may require bridging anticoagulation and, if required, how to administer bridging, typically with a low-molecular-weight heparin, before and after surgery in a manner that minimizes the risk for bleeding. The overall goal is to minimize patients' risk for thromboembolism and bleeding throughout the perioperative period. The objective of this article is to provide an evidence-based but practical approach relating to these 2 key issues in a manner than can be applied to everyday clinical practice.