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Concept: Heparin

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Background It is uncertain whether bridging anticoagulation is necessary for patients with atrial fibrillation who need an interruption in warfarin treatment for an elective operation or other elective invasive procedure. We hypothesized that forgoing bridging anticoagulation would be noninferior to bridging with low-molecular-weight heparin for the prevention of perioperative arterial thromboembolism and would be superior to bridging with respect to major bleeding. Methods We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which, after perioperative interruption of warfarin therapy, patients were randomly assigned to receive bridging anticoagulation therapy with low-molecular-weight heparin (100 IU of dalteparin per kilogram of body weight) or matching placebo administered subcutaneously twice daily, from 3 days before the procedure until 24 hours before the procedure and then for 5 to 10 days after the procedure. Warfarin treatment was stopped 5 days before the procedure and was resumed within 24 hours after the procedure. Follow-up of patients continued for 30 days after the procedure. The primary outcomes were arterial thromboembolism (stroke, systemic embolism, or transient ischemic attack) and major bleeding. Results In total, 1884 patients were enrolled, with 950 assigned to receive no bridging therapy and 934 assigned to receive bridging therapy. The incidence of arterial thromboembolism was 0.4% in the no-bridging group and 0.3% in the bridging group (risk difference, 0.1 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.6 to 0.8; P=0.01 for noninferiority). The incidence of major bleeding was 1.3% in the no-bridging group and 3.2% in the bridging group (relative risk, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.20 to 0.78; P=0.005 for superiority). Conclusions In patients with atrial fibrillation who had warfarin treatment interrupted for an elective operation or other elective invasive procedure, forgoing bridging anticoagulation was noninferior to perioperative bridging with low-molecular-weight heparin for the prevention of arterial thromboembolism and decreased the risk of major bleeding. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health; BRIDGE ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00786474 .).

Concepts: Blood, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Pulmonary embolism, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Heparin

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Oral anticoagulant therapy is used to prevent thrombosis in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), venous thrombosis and prosthetic heart valves. The introduction of new therapies emphasizes the need to discern the best practice for the patients remaining on warfarin treatment. This study compares patient characteristics and therapeutic control in two settings managing warfarin treatment: Swedish primary health care centers (PHCC) and specialized anticoagulation clinics (ACC).

Concepts: Medicine, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Prothrombin time

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INTRODUCTION AND OBJECTIVES: Left atrial appendage closure can be an attractive option for patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation and a contraindication to oral anticoagulants, provided that satisfactory results can be achieved during implantation and follow-up. METHODS: Thirty-five consecutive patients, not eligible for randomized trials with oral anticoagulants, had an Amplatzer occlusion device implanted under general anesthesia. After the first 5 patients, 3-dimensional imaging was incorporated. The results of the implantation and the follow-up were analyzed over a 1-year period. RESULTS: The mean age was 74.65 (7.61) years, with a CHADS(2) score of 2.41 (1.53) and a CHA(2)DS(2)-VASc score of 3.17 (1.60). Implantation failed in 1 patient and 5 needed a change in the selected plug size. There were no cardiac complications during the implantation or hospital stay. There was 1 vascular complication (arteriovenous fistula). Transesophageal echocardiography monitoring was performed at 24h, 1, 3, 6 and 12 months and we found 5 thrombi which were resolved with heparin. In the follow-up period of 21.14 (10.09) months, 3 patients aged>80 years died, none of them due to heart problems, and one transient ischemic stroke without further consequences. CONCLUSIONS: Left atrial appendage closure by an experienced operator can be a treatment option with few complications and with efficient results at>1 year in reducing thromboembolic and hemorrhagic complications, even in very high-risk groups. Full English text available from:www.revespcardiol.org/en.

Concepts: Cardiology, Heart, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Left atrial appendage

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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.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Warfarin, Thrombus, Anticoagulant, Heparin

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Fucosylated chondroitin sulfate (FucCS) is a structurally distinct glycosaminoglycan found in sea cucumber species. It has the same backbone composition of alternating 4-linked glucuronic acid and 3-linked N-acetyl galactosamine residues within disaccharide repeating units as regularly found in mammalian chondroitin sulfates. However, FucCS has also sulfated fucosyl branching units 3-O-linked to the acid residues. The sulfation patterns of these branches vary accordingly with holothurian species and account for different biological actions and responses. FucCSs may exhibit anticoagulant, antithrombotic, anti-inflammatory, anticancer, antiviral, and pro-angiogenic activities, besides its beneficial effects in hemodialysis, cellular growth modulation, fibrosis and hyperglycemia. Through an historical overview, this document covers most of the science regarding the holothurian FucCS. Both structural and medical properties of this unique GAG, investigated during the last 25 years, are systematically discussed herein.

Concepts: Chondroitin sulfate, Glucosamine, Heparin, Glycosaminoglycan, Sulfate, Sea cucumber

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Background Specific reversal agents for non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants are lacking. Idarucizumab, an antibody fragment, was developed to reverse the anticoagulant effects of dabigatran. Methods We undertook this prospective cohort study to determine the safety of 5 g of intravenous idarucizumab and its capacity to reverse the anticoagulant effects of dabigatran in patients who had serious bleeding (group A) or required an urgent procedure (group B). The primary end point was the maximum percentage reversal of the anticoagulant effect of dabigatran within 4 hours after the administration of idarucizumab, on the basis of the determination at a central laboratory of the dilute thrombin time or ecarin clotting time. A key secondary end point was the restoration of hemostasis. Results This interim analysis included 90 patients who received idarucizumab (51 patients in group A and 39 in group B). Among 68 patients with an elevated dilute thrombin time and 81 with an elevated ecarin clotting time at baseline, the median maximum percentage reversal was 100% (95% confidence interval, 100 to 100). Idarucizumab normalized the test results in 88 to 98% of the patients, an effect that was evident within minutes. Concentrations of unbound dabigatran remained below 20 ng per milliliter at 24 hours in 79% of the patients. Among 35 patients in group A who could be assessed, hemostasis, as determined by local investigators, was restored at a median of 11.4 hours. Among 36 patients in group B who underwent a procedure, normal intraoperative hemostasis was reported in 33, and mildly or moderately abnormal hemostasis was reported in 2 patients and 1 patient, respectively. One thrombotic event occurred within 72 hours after idarucizumab administration in a patient in whom anticoagulants had not been reinitiated. Conclusions Idarucizumab completely reversed the anticoagulant effect of dabigatran within minutes. (Funded by Boehringer Ingelheim; RE-VERSE AD ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02104947 .).

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Normal distribution, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Dabigatran, Anticoagulants, Direct thrombin inhibitor

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The diagnostic work-up for heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT) can take several days. Consequently patients may be speculatively switched onto replacement anticoagulant therapy before a diagnosis is confirmed. On-demand immunoassay diagnostic testing enables timely treatment decisions, based on test results.

Concepts: Medical terms, Diagnosis, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Thrombocytopenia, Immunoassay, Medical test, Heparin-induced thrombocytopenia

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Background The use of thromboprophylaxis to prevent clinically apparent venous thromboembolism after knee arthroscopy or casting of the lower leg is disputed. We compared the incidence of symptomatic venous thromboembolism after these procedures between patients who received anticoagulant therapy and those who received no anticoagulant therapy. Methods We conducted two parallel, pragmatic, multicenter, randomized, controlled, open-label trials with blinded outcome evaluation: the POT-KAST trial, which included patients undergoing knee arthroscopy, and the POT-CAST trial, which included patients treated with casting of the lower leg. Patients were assigned to receive either a prophylactic dose of low-molecular-weight heparin (for the 8 days after arthroscopy in the POT-KAST trial or during the full period of immobilization due to casting in the POT-CAST trial) or no anticoagulant therapy. The primary outcomes were the cumulative incidences of symptomatic venous thromboembolism and major bleeding within 3 months after the procedure. Results In the POT-KAST trial, 1543 patients underwent randomization, of whom 1451 were included in the intention-to-treat population. Venous thromboembolism occurred in 5 of the 731 patients (0.7%) in the treatment group and in 3 of the 720 patients (0.4%) in the control group (relative risk, 1.6; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.4 to 6.8; absolute difference in risk, 0.3 percentage points; 95% CI, -0.6 to 1.2). Major bleeding occurred in 1 patient (0.1%) in the treatment group and in 1 (0.1%) in the control group (absolute difference in risk, 0 percentage points; 95% CI, -0.6 to 0.7). In the POT-CAST trial, 1519 patients underwent randomization, of whom 1435 were included in the intention-to-treat population. Venous thromboembolism occurred in 10 of the 719 patients (1.4%) in the treatment group and in 13 of the 716 patients (1.8%) in the control group (relative risk, 0.8; 95% CI, 0.3 to 1.7; absolute difference in risk, -0.4 percentage points; 95% CI, -1.8 to 1.0). No major bleeding events occurred. In both trials, the most common adverse event was infection. Conclusions The results of our trials showed that prophylaxis with low-molecular-weight heparin for the 8 days after knee arthroscopy or during the full period of immobilization due to casting was not effective for the prevention of symptomatic venous thromboembolism. (Funded by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development; POT-KAST and POT-CAST ClinicalTrials.gov numbers, NCT01542723 and NCT01542762 , respectively.).

Concepts: Blood, Thrombosis, Pulmonary embolism, Warfarin, Anterior cruciate ligament, Low molecular weight heparin, Anticoagulant, Heparin

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Although non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants are recommended for stroke prevention in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) based on clinical trial results, there is a need for safety and efficacy data from unselected patients in everyday clinical practice. XANTUS investigated the safety and efficacy of the Factor Xa inhibitor rivaroxaban in routine clinical use in the NVAF setting.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Dabigatran, Anticoagulants

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Recently, a new generation of direct-acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs) with a greater specificity towards activated coagulation factors was introduced based on encouraging results for efficacy and safety in clinical studies. An initial limitation of these new drugs was the absence of an adequate strategy to reverse the effect if a bleeding event occurs or an urgent invasive procedure has to be carried out.

Concepts: Effectiveness, Warfarin, Heparin