Warfarin therapy reduces morbidity and mortality related to thromboembolism. Yet adherence to long-term warfarin therapy remains challenging due to the risks of anticoagulant-associated complications and the burden of monitoring. The aim of this paper is to review determinants of adherence and persistence on long-term anticoagulant therapy for atrial fibrillation and venous thromboembolism. We evaluate what the current literature reveals about the impact of warfarin on quality of life, examine warfarin trial data for patterns of adherence, and summarize known risk factors for warfarin discontinuation. Studies suggest only modest adverse effects of warfarin on quality of life, but highlight the variability of individual lifestyle experiences of patients on warfarin. Interestingly, clinical trials comparing anticoagulant adherence to alternatives (such as aspirin) show that discontinuation rates on warfarin are not consistently higher than in control arms. Observational studies link a number of risk factors to warfarin non-adherence including younger age, male sex, lower stroke risk, poor cognitive function, poverty, and higher educational attainment. In addition to differentiating the relative impact of warfarin-associated complications (such as bleeding) versus the lifestyle burdens of warfarin monitoring on adherence, future investigation should focus on optimizing patient education and enhancing models of physician–patient shared-decision making around anticoagulation.
anticoagulation; warfarin; adherence; persistence; thromboembolism
Multimodal thromboprophylaxis includes preoperative thromboembolic risk stratification and autologous blood donation, surgery performed under regional anaesthesia, postoperative rapid mobilisation, use of pneumatic compression devices and chemoprophylaxis tailored to the patient’s individual risk. We determined the 90-day rate of venous thromboembolism (VTE), other complications and mortality in patients who underwent primary elective hip and knee replacement surgery with multimodal thromboprophylaxis.
A total of 1,568 consecutive patients undergoing hip and knee replacement surgery received multimodal thromboprophylaxis: 1,115 received aspirin, 426 received warfarin and 27 patients received low molecular weight heparin and warfarin with or without a vena cava filter.
The rate of VTE, pulmonary embolism, proximal deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and distal DVT was 1.2, 0.36, 0.45 and 0.36 %, respectively, in patients who received aspirin. The rates in those who received warfarin were 1.4, 0.9, 0.47 and 0.47 %, respectively. The overall 90-day mortality rate was 0.2 %.
Multimodal thromboprophylaxis in which aspirin is administered to low-risk patients is safe and effective following primary total joint replacement.
Purpose: Patients with acute hip fractures who are on maintenance warfarin for anticoagulation present a significant challenge and their management remains controversial. The purpose of this study was to assess thromboembolic and systemic complications associated with pharmacological reversal of warfarin-associated coagulopathy in a population of geriatric patients with hip fractures. Methods: This retrospective cohort study identified patients with operative hip fractures on oral warfarin therapy who had an international normalized ratio (INR) >1.50 on admission (N = 93) approximately over a 13-year span. The control group consisted of patients whose warfarin was held upon admission without further intervention preoperatively (n = 23). The treatment group consisted of patients who underwent pharmacologic reversal of elevated INR with vitamin K and/or fresh frozen plasma (FFP) in addition to holding warfarin (n = 70). Primary outcomes included thromboembolic and other complications as well as mortality within 3 months of presentation. Time to surgery was a secondary outcome. Results: The 3-month mortality rate was 4% in the pharmacological intervention group and 17% in the watch-and-wait group; this difference trended toward statistical significance (P = .06). There were no significant differences in the likelihoods of other thromboembolic or nonthromboembolic complications between groups. While the difference in mean time to surgery was not significantly different overall between groups, this difference was significant in a subgroup of patients with higher baseline INRs (n = 46, INR >2.17), with a mean difference of 4.0 fewer days until surgery in the pharmacological intervention group (P < .01). Conclusions: Pharmacological reversal of warfarin-associated coagulopathy with a combination of vitamin K and FFP appears to be a safe way to optimize patients for operative fixation of hip fractures and is associated with a shorter delay to surgery in patients with more elevated INRs preoperatively. Level of evidence: retrospective cohort study (level III).
anticoagulation; warfarin; reversal; hip fracture
Patients with mechanical valve prostheses require a lifelong anticoagulant treatment. The combined use of Warfarin and low-dose aspirin appears to reduce the risk of valve thrombosis and systemic embolism at a low risk of bleeding. The management of women with prosthetic heart valves during pregnancy poses a particular challenge, as there are no available controlled clinical trials to provide guidelines for effective antithrombotic therapy. Oral anticoagulants, such as Warfarin, cause foetal embryopathy; unfractionated heparin and low-molecular-weight heparin have been reported to be ineffective in preventing thromboembolic complications. This article discusses the available data and the most recent guidelines in the antithrombotic management of patients with prosthetic valves, and antithrombotic therapy in various clinical situations such as pregnant women with prosthetic heart valves, and patients with prosthetic heart valves undergoing noncardiac surgery.
Anticoagulation; Valve disease; Valve prosthesis
Atrial fibrillation, the commonest cardiac arrhythmia, predisposes to thrombus formation and consequently increases risk of ischaemic stroke. Recent years have seen approval of a number of novel oral anticoagulants. Nevertheless, warfarin and aspirin remain the mainstays of therapy. It is widely appreciated that both these agents increase the likelihood of bleeding: there is a popular conception that this risk is greater with warfarin. In fact, well-managed warfarin therapy (INR 2-3) has little effect on bleeding risk and is twice as effective as aspirin at preventing stroke. Patients with atrial fibrillation and a further risk factor for stroke (CHA2DS2-VASc >0) should therefore either receive warfarin or a novel oral agent. The remainder who are at the very lowest risk of stroke are better not prescribed antithrombotic therapy. For stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation; aspirin is rarely the right choice.
Atrial Fibrillation; Aspirin; Antithrombotic; Anticoagulant; Warfarin
We examined the latex surgical gloves used by 56 primary surgeons in 454 ophthalmic surgical procedures performed over a 7-month period. Of five techniques used to detect pinholes, air inflation with water submersion and compression was found to be the most sensitive, yielding a 6.80% prevalence in control glove pairs and a 21.8% prevalence in postoperative study glove pairs, for a 15.0% incidence of surgically induced perforations (P = 0.000459). The lowest postoperative perforation rate was 11.4% for cataract and intraocular lens surgery, and the highest was 41.7% for oculoplastic procedures. Factors that correlated significantly with the presence of glove perforations as determined by multiple logistic regression analysis were oculoplastic and pediatric ophthalmology and strabismus surgical procedures, surgeon's status as a fellow in training, operating time, and glove size. The thumb and index finger of the nondominant hand contained the largest numbers of pinholes. These data suggest strategies for reducing the risk of cross-infection during ophthalmic surgery.
Dual antiplatelet treatment with aspirin and clopidogrel is the antithrombotic treatment recommended after an acute coronary syndrome and/or coronary artery stenting. The evidence for optimal antiplatelet therapy for patients, in whom long-term treatment oral anticoagulation is mandatory, is however scarce. To evaluate the safety and efficacy of the various antithrombotic strategies adopted in this population, we reviewed the available evidence on the management of patients receiving oral anticoagulation, such as a vitamin-k-antagonists, referred for coronary artery stenting.
Atrial fibrillation is the most frequent indication for oral anticoagulation. The need of starting antiplatelet therapy in this clinical scenario raises concerns about the combination to choose: triple therapy with warfarin, aspirin, and a thienopyridine being the most frequent and advised. The safety of this regimen appeared suboptimal because of an increased risk in hemorrhagic complications. On the other hand, the combination of oral anticoagulation and an antiplatelet agent is suboptimal in preventing thromboembolic events and stent thrombosis; dual antiplatelet therapy may be considered only when a high hemorrhagic risk and low thromboembolic risk are perceived. Indeed, the need for prolonged multiple-drug antithrombotic therapy increases the bleeding risks when drug eluting stents are used.
Since current evidence derives mainly from small, single-center and retrospective studies, large-scale prospective multicenter studies are urgently needed.
Atrial fibrillation; Percutaneous coronary intervention; Stent; Warfarin; Antiplatelet drugs
Patients with medical comorbidities that necessitate chronic anticoagulation therapy frequently present as candidates for total knee arthroplasty (TKA). We asked whether it was necessary to stop warfarin preoperatively to avoid postoperative bleeding complications. We retrospectively reviewed 77 preoperatively anticoagulated patients undergoing TKA. Thirty-eight of these 77 patients were maintained on their routine therapeutic warfarin regimen throughout the perioperative period. The remaining 39 patients had their routine preoperative warfarin regimen discontinued preoperatively and then restarted after surgery. We compared rates of comorbid illness, blood transfusions, wound complications, and reoperations. The demographic data and the ratio of primary to revision arthroplasties were similar in the two groups. The age-adjusted risk ratios for blood transfusions, wound complications, and reoperations were 0.61, 0.29, and 0.43, respectively. The data presented suggest maintaining a therapeutic warfarin regimen throughout the perioperative period for high-risk patients is not associated with an increase risk of complications after TKA.
Level of Evidence: Level III, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.
As the management of patients treated with anticoagulants and antiplatelet drugs entails balancing coagulation levels, we evaluated the net clinical benefit of warfarin and aspirin on stroke in a large cohort of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).
A population-based cohort study of all patients at least 18 years of age with a first-ever diagnosis of chronic AF during the period 1993–2008 was conducted within the United Kingdom General Practice Research Database. A nested case–control analysis was conducted to estimate the risk of ischemic stroke and intracranial hemorrhage associated with the use of warfarin and aspirin. Cases were matched up to 10 controls on age, sex, and date of cohort entry. The adjusted net clinical benefit of warfarin and aspirin (expressed as the number of strokes prevented per 100 persons per year) was calculated by subtracting the ischemic stroke rate (prevented by therapy) from the intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) rate (increased by therapy).
The cohort included 70,766 patients newly-diagnosed with chronic AF, of whom 5519 experienced an ischemic stroke and 689 an ICH during follow-up. The adjusted net clinical benefit of warfarin was 0.59 (95% CI: 0.45, 0.73). However, the benefit was not seen for patients below (0.08, 95%: -0.38, 0.54) and above (−0.49, 95% CI: -1.13, 0.15) therapeutic range. The net clinical benefit of warfarin, apparent after 3 months of continuous use, increased as a function of CHADS2 score. The net clinical benefit was not significant with aspirin (−0.07, 95% CI: -0.22, 0.08), though it was seen in certain subgroups.
Warfarin provides a net clinical benefit in patients with atrial fibrillation, which is maintained with longer duration of use, particularly when used within therapeutic range. A similar net effect is not as clear with aspirin.
Atrial fibrillation; stroke; intracranial hemorrhage; warfarin; aspirin; net clinical benefit
Atrial fibrillation is a common problem in older people. The evidence base for the safety of warfarin and aspirin in atrial fibrillation is largely derived from selective research studies and secondary care. Further assessment of the safety of warfarin in older people with atrial fibrillation in routine primary care is needed.
To measure the complication rates and adequacy of warfarin control in a cohort of patients with atrial fibrillation managed in primary care and compare them with published data from controlled trials and community patients with atrial fibrillation not receiving warfarin.
Design of study
Retrospective review of regional cohort.
Twenty-seven general practices in southwest Scotland.
Case note review of 601 patients previously identified as having atrial fibrillation by GPs.
The average age of our cohort was 77 years at recruitment. Two hundred and sixty-four (44%) patients died within 5 years of follow up. Three hundred and nine of the 601 (51%) patients with atrial fibrillation took warfarin at some stage during this study. INR (international normalised ratio) was maintained between 2 and 3 for 68% of the time. Bleeding risk was higher in patients taking warfarin than in those on aspirin or no antithrombotic therapy (warfarin 9.0% per year versus aspirin 4.7% per year versus no therapy 4.6% per year). The annual risk of any bleeding complication on warfarin (9%) was similar to that recorded in randomised trials (9.2%) whereas the annual risk of severe bleeding was approximately double (2.6 versus 1.3%).
Adequacy of anticoagulant control was broadly comparable to that reported in clinical trials, whereas the risk of severe bleeding was higher, possibly reflecting the older age and the comorbidities of our unselected cohort.
anticoagulation; antithrombotic therapy; atrial fibrillation; cohort study
The aim of the present study was to determine the optimal intensity of anticoagulation therapy in elderly patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (PAF), using aspirin and varied concentrations of warfarin. Elderly patients with PAF (n=1,162) who met the inclusion criteria of the study and were at middle or high-risk of a stroke were investigated. Patients were divided into six groups (four high-risk groups and two middle-risk groups). Patients were treated with aspirin or varied concentrations of warfarin. The primary endpoint events, secondary endpoint events, major bleeding events and minor bleeding events were observed and compared. In high-risk elderly patients, warfarin significantly reduced primary and secondary endpoint events, total primary events and total events compared with aspirin. In middle-risk elderly patients, for all the events warfarin demonstrated no significant difference compared with aspirin. In high-risk patients with PAF, when the concentration of warfarin was adjusted to target international normalized ratio (INR) range 1.7–2.5, the primary and secondary endpoint events, total primary events and total events were significantly lower (P<0.05), compared with aspirin and warfarin at INR 1.2–1.6. When the intensity of warfarin was adjusted to the target INR 2.6–3.0, the primary and secondary endpoint events were significantly lower (P<0.05) compared with aspirin and warfarin INR at 1.2–1.6. This study determined that in high-risk elderly patients with PAF, warfarin is recommended for anticoagulation with an optimal INR range of 1.7–2.5. In patients at a middle-risk of a stroke, aspirin is the recommended treatment as an antithrombotic as results have indicated that there is limited benefit in the use of warfarin.
paroxysmal atrial fibrillation; aspirin; warfarin; middle risk; high risk
Ximelagatran is a novel oral direct thrombin inhibitor. It has favorable pharmacodynamic properties, with a broad therapeutic range without the need for anticoagulation monitoring. We aimed to discover whether ximelagatran offers a genuine future replacement to warfarin for patients in persistent atrial fibrillation (AF).
Materials and methods
We provide an evidence-based review of the relative merits and disadvantages of warfarin and aspirin. We subsequently present an overview of the evidence for the utility of ximelagatran in the treatment of AF.
Adjusted dose warfarin is recommended over aspirin for patients in AF at high risk of future stroke. Some of this benefit is partially offset by the higher bleeding risks associated with warfarin therapy. The SPORTIF III and V studies have shown that ximelagatran is not inferior to warfarin in the prevention of all strokes in patients with AF (both persistent and paroxysmal). This benefit was partially offset by the finding of a significant elevation of liver transaminases (>3 × normal) in 6% of patients.
Current data would suggest that ximelagatran might represent a future alternative to warfarin. The lack of need for anticoagulant monitoring has been partially offset by a need for regular monitoring of liver function. Further data from randomized clinical trials is clearly needed.
The thromboembolic risk of atrial fibrillation varies with the underlying cause, associated heart disease, and history of previous embolism. Decisions regarding warfarin anticoagulation therapy require a careful assessment of relative risks of thromboembolism and bleeding. Anticoagulation is strongly indicated for valvular atrial fibrillation and to prevent recurrent stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation and previous stroke or transient ischemic attack. Several randomized trials have consistently shown a reduction of the risk with the use of warfarin in nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, and anticoagulation is recommended. With a careful selection of patients, the risk of major bleeding on warfarin therapy is 2% to 4% per year. Aspirin therapy is less efficacious but also less risky than warfarin. Patients younger than 60 with lone atrial fibrillation do not require anticoagulation.
Genetic variants of the warfarin sensitivity gene CYP2C9 have been associated with increased bleeding risk during warfarin initiation. Studies also suggest that such patients remain at risk throughout treatment.
Would testing patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF) for CYP2C9 before initiating warfarin improve outcomes?
Markov state transition decision model.
Ambulatory or inpatient settings necessitating new initiation of anticoagulation.
The base case was a 69-year-old man with newly diagnosed non-valvular AF. Interventions included: (1) warfarin, (2) aspirin, or (3) no antithrombotic therapy without genetic testing; and genetic testing followed by (4) aspirin or (5) no antithrombotic therapy in those with culprit CYP2C9 alleles.
Quality-adjusted life years (QALYs).
In the base case, testing and treating patients with CYP2C9*2 and/or CYP2C9*3 with aspirin rather than warfarin was best (8.97 QALYs). However, warfarin without genetic testing was a close second (8.96 QALYs), a difference of roughly 5 days. Sensitivity analyses demonstrated that genetic testing followed by aspirin was best for patients at lower risk of embolic events. Warfarin without testing was preferred if the rate of embolic events was greater than 5% per year, or the risk of major bleeding while receiving warfarin was lower.
For patients at average risk for ischemic stroke due to AF and at average risk for major hemorrhage, treatment based on genetic testing offers no benefit compared to warfarin initiation without testing. The gain from testing may be larger in patients at lower risk of embolic events or at greater risk of bleeding.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-009-0927-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
anticoagulant therapy; warfarin; genetic testing; pharmacogenetics; decision analysis; atrial fibrillation; stroke
To evaluate current clinical practice in the UK in the management of the anophthalmic socket; choice of enucleation, evisceration, type of orbital implant, wrap, motility pegging and complications.
All consultant ophthalmologists in the UK were surveyed by postal questionnaire. Questions included their practice subspecialty and number of enucleations and eviscerations performed in 2003. Specific questions addressed choice of implant, wrap, motility pegging and complications.
456/896 (51%) consultants responded, of which 162 (35%) had a specific interest in oculoplastics, lacrimal, orbits or oncology. Only 243/456 (53%) did enucleations or eviscerations. 92% inserted an orbital implant after primary enucleation, 69% after non‐endophthalmitis evisceration, whereas only 43% did so after evisceration for endophthalmitis (50% as a delayed procedure). 55% used porous orbital implants (porous polyethylene, hydroxyapatite or alumina) as their first choice and 42% used acrylic. Most implants inserted were spherical, sized 18–20 mm in diameter. 57% wrapped the implant after enucleation, using salvaged autogenous sclera (20%), donor sclera (28%) and synthetic Vicryl or Mersilene mesh (42%). A minority (7%) placed motility pegs in selected cases, usually as a secondary procedure. 14% of respondents reported implant exposure for each type of procedure and extrusion was reported by 4% after enucleation and 3% after evisceration.
This survey highlights contemporary anophthalmic socket practice in the UK. Most surgeons use porous orbital implants with a synthetic wrap after enucleation and only few perform motility pegging.
Warfarin, the most commonly used antithrombotic agent for stroke prophylaxis in atrial fibrillation (AF), requires regular monitoring, frequent dosage adjustments, and dietary restrictions. Clinicians’ perceptions of barriers to optimal AF management are an important factor in treatment. Anticoagulation management for AF is overseen by both cardiology and internal medicine (IM) practices. Thus, gaining the perspective of specialists and generalists is essential in understanding barriers to treatment. We used qualitative research methods to define key issues in the prescription of warfarin therapy for AF by cardiology specialists and IM physicians.
Methods and results
Clinicians were interviewed to identify barriers to warfarin treatment in a large Midwestern city. Interviews were conducted until thematic saturation occurred. Content analysis yielded several themes. The most salient theme that emerged from clinician interviews was use of characteristics other than the patient’s CHADS2 score to enact a treatment plan, such as the patient’s social situation and past medication-taking behavior. Other themes included patient knowledge, real-world problems, breakdown in communication, and clinician reluctance.
Warfarin treatment is associated with many challenges. The barriers identified by clinicians highlight the unmet need associated with stroke prophylaxis in AF and the opportunity to improve anticoagulation treatment in AF. Social and lifestyle factors were important considerations in determining treatment.
anticoagulants; atrial fibrillation; risk factors
The records of 1087 patients who underwent surgical removal of third molar teeth were prospectively examined to analyse the possible relationship between postoperative complications and the surgeon's experience parameter.
Method and materials
Seven surgeons (three specialists in surgical dentistry [specialists SD] and four oral and maxillofacial Senior House Officers [OMFS residents]) carried out the surgical procedures. For each patient, several variables were recorded including age, gender, radiographic position of extracted teeth, treating surgeon, duration of surgery and postoperative complications.
Analysis of the data revealed some differences in the incidence of complications produced by the specialists SD and OMFS residents. The main statistically relevant differences were increase the incidences of trismus, nerve paraesthesia, alveolar osteitis and infection in the resident-treated group, while the specialist-treated group showed higher rates of post-operative bleeding.
The higher rate of postoperative complications in the resident-treated group suggests that at least some of the complications might be related to surgical experience.
Further work needs to compare specialists of training programmes with different years of experience, using large cross – sectional studies.
Most patients with atrial fibrillation should be considered for antithrombotic therapy. In a retrospective survey we investigated practice in two hospitals. For patients at high risk, established guidelines recommend warfarin, or aspirin if anticoagulants are contraindicated; for those at medium risk, either may be used. Of 156 with atrial fibrillation (acute, chronic or paroxysmal), 119 were at high risk, mean age 79 years. According to the guidelines, 89 of these were suitable for anticoagulation but only 49 (55%) received warfarin; 27 received aspirin and 13 neither. Of 27 patients at medium risk (mean age 70 years), 6 were not prescribed any antithrombotic therapy. This survey indicates that guidelines on antithrombotic therapy are commonly disregarded and that, in particular, warfarin is underutilized in the group for whom it is most indicated.
It is unknown whether warfarin or aspirin therapy is superior for patients with heart failure who are in sinus rhythm.
We designed this trial to determine whether warfarin (with a target international normalized ratio of 2.0 to 3.5) or aspirin (at a dose of 325 mg per day) is a better treatment for patients in sinus rhythm who have a reduced left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). We followed 2305 patients for up to 6 years (mean [±SD], 3.5±1.8). The primary outcome was the time to the first event in a composite end point of ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, or death from any cause.
The rates of the primary outcome were 7.47 events per 100 patient-years in the warfarin group and 7.93 in the aspirin group (hazard ratio with warfarin, 0.93; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.79 to 1.10; P = 0.40). Thus, there was no significant overall difference between the two treatments. In a time-varying analysis, the hazard ratio changed over time, slightly favoring warfarin over aspirin by the fourth year of follow-up, but this finding was only marginally significant (P = 0.046). Warfarin, as compared with aspirin, was associated with a significant reduction in the rate of ischemic stroke throughout the follow-up period (0.72 events per 100 patient-years vs. 1.36 per 100 patient-years; hazard ratio, 0.52; 95% CI, 0.33 to 0.82; P = 0.005). The rate of major hemorrhage was 1.78 events per 100 patient-years in the warfarin group as compared with 0.87 in the aspirin group (P<0.001). The rates of intracerebral and intracranial hemorrhage did not differ significantly between the two treatment groups (0.27 events per 100 patient-years with warfarin and 0.22 with aspirin, P = 0.82).
Among patients with reduced LVEF who were in sinus rhythm, there was no significant overall difference in the primary outcome between treatment with warfarin and treatment with aspirin. A reduced risk of ischemic stroke with warfarin was offset by an increased risk of major hemorrhage. The choice between warfarin and aspirin should be individualized.
Necrotising fasciitis is an uncommon but life-threatening soft tissue infection characterised by rapidly spreading inflammation and necrosis of skin, subcutaneous fat and fascia. Left untreated, the mortality can be more than 70%. Early surgical intervention can reduce morbidity and mortality.
Patients and methods
This is a series of 11 patients who presented to our oculoplastic and orbit unit with periocular necrotising fasciitis over a period of five years. We present the modes of presentation, predisposing factors, diagnosis, and the multidisciplinary team management of these patients.
Of the 11 patients, 1 patient died and 2 patients required intensive care management. Of the 10 surviving patients, 8 patients needed further surgical interventions for correction of complications, like eyelid malposition, ptosis and protective or corrective surgery in the form of ectropion correction, skin grafting and other rehabilitative procedures.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the largest series of periocular necrotising fasciitis in the literature. Necrotising fasciitis is a potentially fatal condition, resulting in a high rate of mortality and morbidity. Early surgical intervention reduces the mortality. A high index of suspicion is needed to make a prompt diagnosis. These patients need expeditious intervention and may require a long follow-up and subsequent surgery for complications related to scarring and other sequelae.
periocular; necrotising fasciitis; eyelids; debridement
Atrial fibrillation, a common arrhythmia, is responsible for considerable cardiovascular morbidity. Its management demands more than antiarrhythmic therapy alone, but must address the causes and consequences of the arrhythmia. Although remediable causes are infrequently found, a thorough search for associated heart disease or its risk factors results in better-informed patient management. Controlling the ventricular response and protecting from thromboembolic complications are important initial goals of therapy and may include the administration of aspirin in younger, low-risk patients. Older patients and those with risk factors for systemic embolism are not adequately protected from stroke complications by aspirin therapy alone. It remains controversial whether all high-risk patients should receive warfarin and at what intensity. Whether and how sinus rhythm should be restored and maintained poses the greatest therapeutic controversy for atrial fibrillation. The mortal risk of antiarrhythmic therapy is substantially greater in patients with evidence of heart failure. In such persons, the risks and benefits of maintaining normal sinus rhythm with antiarrhythmic medications should be weighted carefully. A definitive cure for atrial fibrillation remains elusive, but promising surgical and catheter ablation therapies are being developed.
Anticoagulation with warfarin should be stopped 4–6 days before invasive procedures to avoid bleeding complications. Despite this routine, some patients still have high International Normalized Ratio (INR) values on the day of surgery and the procedure may be cancelled. We sought to identify easily available clinical characteristics that may influence the rate of normalization of prothrombin time when warfarin is stopped before surgery or invasive procedures.
Clinical data were collected retrospectively from consecutive cases from two cohorts, who stopped warfarin 6 days before surgery. An INR value of 1.6 or higher on the day of surgery or requirement for reversal with vitamin K the day before surgery were criteria for slow return (S) to normal INR.
Of 202 patients, 14 (7%) were classified as S. Eight of the S-patients required reversal with vitamin K one day before surgery and in another case surgery was cancelled due to high INR. Baseline INR was the only variable significantly associated with classification as S in stepwise logistic regression analysis (p = 0.003). The odds ratio for being in the normal group was 0.27 (95% confidence interval 0.12–0.62) for each unit baseline INR increased. The positive predictive value of baseline INR with a cut off at > 3.0 was only 15% and for INR > 3.5 it was 33%.
Baseline INR, but not the size of the maintenance dose, is associated with the rate of normalization of prothrombin time after stopping warfarin, but it has limited utility as predictor in clinical practice. Whenever normal hemostasis is considered crucial for the safety, the INR should be checked again before the invasive procedure.
Peer‐reviewed data pertaining to anti‐thrombotic and interventional therapy for transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or ischaemic stroke patients with non‐valvular atrial fibrillation, atrial flutter, interatrial septal abnormalities, or left ventricular thrombus were reviewed. Long‐term oral anticoagulant therapy with warfarin is the treatment of choice for secondary stroke prevention following TIA or minor ischaemic stroke in association with persistent or paroxysmal non‐valvular atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. If warfarin is contraindicated, long‐term aspirin is a safe, but much less effective alternative treatment option in this subgroup of patients with cerebrovascular disease. Management of young patients with TIA or stroke in association with an interatrial septal defect is controversial. Various treatment options are outlined, but readers are encouraged to include these patients in one of the ongoing randomised clinical trials in this area. It is reasonable to consider empirical anticoagulation in patients with TIA or ischaemic stroke in association with left ventricular thrombus formation following myocardial infarction or in association with idiopathic dilated cardiomyopathy. If warfarin is prescribed, one should aim for a target international normalised ratio of 2.5 (range 2–3) to achieve the best balance between adequate secondary prevention of cardioembolic events and the risk of major haemorrhagic complications.
The use of antithrombotic agents and falls are independently associated with an increased risk of hemorrhagic injury. However, few studies have delineated the risk of fall-related hemorrhagic complications in persons who are taking antithrombotic therapy. The objective of this study was to compare the rates of fall-related hemorrhagic injury in hospital in-patients who are taking and not taking antithrombotic therapy.
A 4-year retrospective chart review of consecutive patients who fell during admission to a 500-bed tertiary-care teaching hospital was conducted. Major hemorrhagic injuries including subdural hematomas and major bleeding/cuts, patients' use of antithrombotic medication (warfarin, aspirin, clopidogrel and heparin) and their anticoagulation status at the time of their fall were recorded.
A total of 2635 falls in 1861 patients were reviewed. Approximately 10% of falls caused major hemorrhagic injury. One fall resulted in a subdural hematoma. Persons taking warfarin were less likely to suffer a fall-related major hemorrhagic injury compared with persons not taking antithrombotic therapy (warfarin, 6%; no therapy, 11%; p = 0.01). Logistic regression showed that fall-related major hemorrhagic injury was associated with female gender (odds ratio 1.6; 95% CI 1.3, 2.1), use of aspirin (odds ratio 1.4; 95% CI 1.1, 1.8) and use of clopidogrel (odds ratio 2.2; 95% CI 1.1, 4.8), but not with the use of warfarin or heparin, or the intensity of anticoagulation.
In this study, compared with persons taking no antithrombotic therapy, those taking warfarin had lower rates of fall-related hemorrhagic injuries. The absolute rate of the development of fall-related intracranial hemorrhagic injury such as subdural hematomas was low, even in persons taking warfarin. These counter-intuitive results may be due to selection bias, and suggest that physicians are very conservative in selecting patients for warfarin therapy, choosing only those who are sufficiently healthy to be at much lower than average risk of suffering fall-related hemorrhagic injuries. This phenomenon may lead to physicians overestimating the potential for fall-related major hemorrhagic injury in persons taking antithrombotic therapy, with the possible denial of warfarin therapy to many of those who would benefit. This perception may contribute to the care gap between the number of patients who would theoretically derive overall benefit from warfarin therapy and those who are actually receiving it.
Imaging is a beneficial aid to the oculoplastic surgeon especially in orbital and lacrimal disorders when the pathology is not visible from outside. It is a powerful tool that may be benefited in not only diagnosis but also management and follow-up. The most common imaging modalities required are CT and MRI, with CT being more frequently ordered by oculoplastic surgeons. Improvements in technology enabled the acquisition times to shorten incredibly. Radiologists can now obtain images with superb resolution, and isolate the site and tissue of interest from other structures with special techniques. Better contrast agents and 3D imaging capabilities make complicated cases easier to identify. Color Doppler imaging is becoming more popular both for research and clinical purposes. Magnetic resonance angiography (MRA) added so much to the vascular system imaging recently. Although angiography is still the gold standard, new software and techniques rendered MRA as valuable as angiography in most circumstances. Stereotactic navigation, although in use for a long time, recently became the focus of interest for the oculoplastic surgeon especially in orbital decompressions. Improvements in radiology and nuclear medicine techniques of lacrimal drainage system imaging provided more detailed analysis of the system.
Oculoplastic surgery; İmaging