What factors should be considered when deciding whether to stop anticoagulation prior to elective surgery in patients with atrial fibrillation (Afib) (AF)?

Updated: Nov 18, 2019
  • Author: Lawrence Rosenthal, MD, PhD, FACC, FHRS; Chief Editor: Jeffrey N Rottman, MD  more...
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Answer

Anticoagulation prior to and during an elective surgery may be continued or stopped depending on the patient’s risk of bleeding and risk of thromboembolism. If the risk of thromboembolism is high (stratified by the CHA2DS2-Vasc score) and the risk of bleeding is low, anticoagulation should be continued with the INR in the low therapeutic range. However, a high risk of bleeding during the procedure should prompt discontinuation of warfarin for 3-5 days prior to surgery. These patients should then be treated with heparin prior to and following the operation to allow discontinuation of anticoagulation if bleeding occurs. Newer anticoagulants can generally be discontinued 1-2 days before the surgery and do not require bridging with heparin or low molecular-weight heparin (LMWH).


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