Many patients receiving an ICD or a pacemaker are already receiving oral anticoagulants. Current guidelines recommend replacement of the oral anticoagulant with the temporary use of heparin as a bridging strategy. Now a new study, BRUISE CONTROL (Bridge or Continue Coumadin for Device Surgery Randomized Controlled Trial), offers convincing evidence that this strategy is not beneficial and, in fact, results in an increase in device-pocket hematoma. Results of the trial were presented today at the Heart Rhythm Society meeting in Denver and published simultaneously in the New England Journal of Medicine.
A group of mostly Canadian investigators randomized 681 patients undergoing ICD or pacemaker implantation with an annual risk for thromboembolic events greater than 5% to either heparin bridging or continued warfarin. The trial was terminated early after a prespecified interim analysis by the data and safety monitoring board. The primary outcome — clinically significant device-pocket hematoma, which the investigators defined as a hematoma that led to prolonged hospitalization, interruption of anticoagulation, or hematoma evacuation — was significantly reduced in the continued-warfarin group, as were all three components of the endpoint:
Primary outcome: 3.5% with continued warfarin versus 16% with heparin bridging (RR 0.19, CI 0.10-0.36, p<0.001).