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DOAC pause yields favorable outcomes for AF patients



– In patients with atrial fibrillation who had direct oral anticoagulant (DOAC) interruption for an elective surgery, a simple and standardized management strategy yielded low rates of bleeding and thromboembolism, according to results of a prospective study of more than 3,000 patients.

Rates of major bleeding were less than 2% and rates of arterial thromboembolism were less than 1% in patients managed in accordance with the strategy, which foregoes heparin bridging and preoperative coagulation testing, according to investigator James D. Douketis, MD, of St. Joseph’s Healthcare and McMaster University, Hamilton, Ont.

“This is the first study to demonstrate the safety of a standardized perioperative management approach in a patients with atrial fibrillation who are taking a DOAC, and we hope will establish a standard and will have an effect on our clinical practice guidelines,” Dr. Douketis said during a press briefing at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology.

This trial offers the “most definitive evidence to date” that atrial fibrillation patients can – in an organized fashion based on bleeding risk – safely stop taking DOACs, said Mark Crowther, MD, chair and professor of medicine at McMaster University.

“This study will almost instantaneously establish a treatment practice and a treatment standard for the vast number of patients in North America and around the world who take these drugs,” added Dr. Crowther, who moderated the press briefing.

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The PAUSE study included three parallel cohorts of atrial fibrillation patients taking DOACs (apixaban, dabigatran, or rivaroxaban) who required anticoagulant interruption for an elective surgery or procedure.

The DOAC interruptions were done using standardized protocols based on the pharmacokinetic properties of each DOAC, procedure-associated bleeding risk, and creatinine clearance, the investigators reported.

The interruptions occurred 1 day before and after low bleeding risk surgeries, and 2 days before and after high bleeding risk surgeries, while longer interruptions were used in patients receiving dabigatran who had a creatinine clearance below 50 mL/min.

A total of 3,007 patients at 23 sites in Canada, the United States, and Europe were managed by this approach in the PAUSE study – 1,257 patients receiving apixaban, 668 receiving dabigatran, and 1,082 receiving rivaroxaban – and were evaluated weekly for 30 days post-procedure.

PAUSE is the largest study to date that addresses how to manage the common problem of perioperative DOAC management. It is likely to have a practice-changing impact and will inform future practice guidelines in perioperative care.

The 30-day postoperative rate of major bleeding was low, according to investigators, at 1.35% (95% confidence interval, 0-2.00%) for apixaban, 0.90% (95% CI, 0-1.73%) for dabigatran, and 1.85% (95% CI, 0-2.65%) for rivaroxaban, Dr. Douketis reported.

Likewise, the rate of arterial thromboembolism was low at 0.16% (95% CI, 0-0.48%) for apixaban, 0.6% (95% CI, 0-1.33%) for dabigatran, and 0.37% (95% CI, 0-0.82%) for rivaroxaban, he said.

Most patients (greater than 90%) had minimal to no residual DOAC levels at the time of surgery, the investigator added.

The study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the H&S Foundation of Canada. Dr. Douketis reported disclosures related to Janssen, which makes rivaroxaban; Boehringer-Ingelheim, which makes dabigatran; and other companies. Dr. Crowther reported financial relationships with Bristol-Myers Squibb and other companies.

SOURCE: Douketis J et al. ASH 2018, Abstract LBA-5.

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