Patient Care

Bridging Anticoagulation for Patients with Atrial Fibrillation


Clinical question: Is bridging anticoagulation for procedures associated with a higher bleeding risk and increased adverse outcomes compared to no bridging?

Background: Practice guidelines have been published to determine when, how, and on whom to bridge anticoagulation for procedures; however, uncertainty remains as to whether or not bridging changes outcomes.

Study design: Prospective, observational study.

Setting: Outcomes Registry for Better Informed treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (ORBIT-AF) study.

Synopsis: Investigators included 10,132 patients who were 18 years and older, with a baseline EKG documenting atrial fibrillation (Afib) and undergoing procedures. Interruptions of oral anticoagulation for a procedure, as well as the use and type of bridging method, were recorded. Six hundred sixty-five patients (24%) used bridging anticoagulation (73% low molecular weight heparin, 15% unfractionated heparin) prior to a procedure. Bridged patients were more likely to have had a mechanical valve replacement (9.6% vs. 2.4%, P<0.0001) and prior stroke (22% vs. 15%, P=0.0003).

Multivariate adjusted analysis showed that bridged patients, compared with non-bridged patients, had higher rates of bleeding (5.0% vs. 1.3%, adjusted odds ratio (OR) 3.84, P<0.0001) and an increased risk for adverse events, including the composite of myocardial infarction (MI), bleeding, stroke or systemic embolism, hospitalization, or death within 30 days (OR 1.94, 95% CI 1.38-271, P=0.0001). Rates of CHADS2 ≥2 or CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2 were similar between bridged and nonbridged patients.

These results are observational and, therefore, a causal relationship cannot be established; however, the Effectiveness of Bridging Anticoagulation for Surgery (BRIDGE) study will give us more insight and answers.

Bottom line: Bridging anticoagulation prior to procedures is associated with a higher risk of bleeding and adverse outcomes.

Citation: Steinberg BA, Peterson ED, Kim S, et al. Use and outcomes associated with bridging during anticoagulation interruptions in patients with atrial fibrillation: Findings from the Outcomes Registry for Better Informed Treatment of Atrial Fibrillation (ORBIT-AF). Circulation. 2015;131(5):488-494.

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