Medical College of Wisconsin
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Antithrombotic therapy for left ventricular assist devices in adults: a systematic review. J Thromb Haemost 2015 Jun;13(6):946-55



Pubmed ID




Scopus ID

2-s2.0-84930181665   45 Citations


BACKGROUND: Left ventricular assist devices (LVADs) have dramatically increased the survival of adults with end-stage systolic heart failure. However, rates of bleeding and thromboembolism remain high.

OBJECTIVES: We completed a systematic review to evaluate outcomes of adults with LVADs treated with various anticoagulant and antiplatelet strategies.

METHODS: Databases were searched using the terms 'assist device', 'thrombosis', and 'anticoagulant' or 'platelet aggregation inhibitor' with appropriate synonyms, device names and manufacturers.

RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Of 977 manuscripts, 24 articles met the inclusion criteria of adults with implanted LVADs where clinical outcomes were defined based on anticoagulant and/or antiplatelet regimen. Most studies reported treatment with unfractionated heparin post-operatively which was transitioned to a vitamin K antagonist (VKA). Goal INR varied between 1.5-3.5. Antiplatelet regimens ranged from no treatment to dual therapy. Definition of major bleeding differed between trials and incidence varied between 0% and 58%. The available evidence could not demonstrate a clear benefit of aspirin compared with VKA therapy alone [stroke RR 1.02 (95% CI 0.49-2.1)]. There was a suggestion that treatment with aspirin and dipyridamole decreased the risk of thromboembolism compared to aspirin [RR 0.50 (0.36-0.68)], but the comparison is limited by differences in demographics, devices, and INR goals among studies. Additionally, most studies did not blind investigators to outcomes thus contributing to an increased risk for bias. Clinical equipoise exists as to the most appropriate antithrombotic therapy in LVAD patients. Randomization between regimens within a prospective trial is needed to define the treatment regimen that minimizes both bleeding and thrombotic complications.

Author List

Baumann Kreuziger LM, Kim B, Wieselthaler GM


Lisa M. Baumann Kreuziger MD Associate Professor in the Medicine department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Blood Coagulation
Chi-Square Distribution
Drug Monitoring
Fibrinolytic Agents
Heart Failure
Heart-Assist Devices
International Normalized Ratio
Odds Ratio
Platelet Aggregation
Platelet Aggregation Inhibitors
Predictive Value of Tests
Prosthesis Design
Risk Assessment
Risk Factors
Treatment Outcome
Ventricular Function, Left