What is the perioperative anticoagulation management for patients with prosthetic heart valves?

Updated: May 08, 2018
  • Author: Brian J Daley, MD, MBA, FACS, FCCP, CNSC; Chief Editor: William A Schwer, MD  more...
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Patients with prosthetic heart valves usually are treated with perioperative LMWH, although randomized controlled trials validating this method are lacking. Coumadin can be stopped 4-5 days preoperatively, with LMWH started the next day at a therapeutic dose. The last dose should be 12 hours preoperatively. LMWH and Coumadin can be retitrated the evening of the operative day. LMWH is stopped when the Coumadin reaches the target range. For patients at higher risk of valve thrombosis (ie, patients with 2 prosthetic valves or with caged-ball type of valves), whether LMWH provides adequate anticoagulant protection is unclear. For these patients, consider use of perioperative UFH instead of LMWH. Preoperatively, the heparin should be stopped 6 hours before the procedure. Postoperatively, the heparin can be restarted when the surgeon agrees that it is safe, usually 6-12 hours postoperatively.

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