Periprocedural Bridging Increases Bleeding Risk without Reduction in VTE Rates for Patients on Long Term Anticoagulants

SUMMARY: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 1-2 per 1000 individuals develop Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)/Pulmonary Embolism (PE) each year in the United States, resulting in 60,000-100,000 deaths. Venous ThromboEmbolism (VTE) is the third leading cause of cardiovascular mortality, after myocardial infarction and stroke. It is estimated that in the US, more than 6 million patients are on chronic anticoagulation and approximately 250,000 patients need to temporarily interrupt their anticoagulant therapy annually, prior to an invasive procedure, to decrease the risk of excess periprocedural bleeding.

Despite a significant and rapid increase in the use of Direct Oral AntiCoagulants (DOACs) in the recent decade, Vitamin K Antagonists (VKAs) such as COUMADIN® (Warfarin) remain the most frequently prescribed anticoagulants in the US and worldwide. VKAs must be interrupted several days prior to a planned procedure to allow for regeneration of vitamin K-dependent coagulation factors (Factors II, X, VII and IX as well as protein C and S) and subsequent normalization of coagulation. Bridging with short-acting parenteral anticoagulants during the periprocedural period is often recommended for individuals at high thromboembolic risk. Previously published studies have shown a significantly higher incidence of major bleeding with bridging, with no difference in thromboembolic outcomes and further, current guidelines fail to identify patients with high-enough thromboembolic risk to justify periprocedural bridging. There is presently no randomized study that shows a clear benefit of periprocedural bridging for patients on long-term anticoagulants, whereas there are abundant data suggesting an increased bleeding risk with bridging.

In this publication, the authors performed a systematic review comparing recurrent VTE and bleeding outcomes, with and without periprocedural bridging, in order to better define risks and benefits of bridging in patients with previous VTE, requiring VKA interruption to undergo an elective invasive procedure. This systematic review involved searching the PubMed and Embase databases from inception to December 7, 2017 for randomized and nonrandomized studies and included adults with previous VTE requiring VKA interruption to undergo an elective procedure, and those that reported VTE or bleeding outcome. This analysis included 28 cohort studies, with 6915 procedures.

It was noted that the pooled incidence of recurrent VTE with bridging was 0.7% and 0.5% without bridging. The pooled incidence of any bleeding was 3.9% with bridging and 0.4% without bridging. In bridged patients at high thromboembolic risk, the pooled incidence for VTE was 0.8% for any bleeding.

The authors noted that this is the first study to systematically assess the risks and benefits of periprocedural bridging in the specific population of patients with previous VTE and they concluded that patients at low and moderate thromboembolic risk do not benefit from periprocedural bridging, and on the contrary, periprocedural bridging increases the risk of bleeding, compared with VKA interruption without bridging, without a significant difference in periprocedural VTE rates. Periprocedural Bridging in Patients with Venous Thromboembolism: A Systematic Review. Baumgartner C, Kouchkovsky I, Whitaker E, et al. The American Journal of Medicine 2019;132:722-732