Background: The immediate postoperative warfarin sensitivity for patients receiving heart valve prostheses is increased. Established warfarin initiation protocols may lack clinical applicability, resulting in dosing based on clinical judgment. Objective: To compare current practice for warfarin initiation with a known warfarin initiation protocol, with doses proportionally reduced to account for the increased postoperative sensitivity. Methods: We compared the Mechanical Heart Valve Warfarin Initiation Protocol (Protocol group) with current practice (clinical judgment—Empirical group) for patients receiving mechanical heart valves in an observational before-and-after format. End points were the time to achieve a stable therapeutic international normalized ratio (INR), doses held in the first 6 days, and overanticoagulation in the first 6 days. Results: The Protocol group (n = 37) achieved a stable INR more rapidly than the Empirical group (n = 77; median times 5.1 and 8.7 days, respectively; P = 0.002). Multivariable analysis indicated that the Protocol group (hazard ratio [HR] = 2.22; P = 0.005) and men (HR = 1.76; P = 0.043) more rapidly achieved a stable therapeutic INR. Age, serum albumin, amiodarone, presence of severe heart failure, and surgery type had no impact. Protocol patients had fewer doses held (1.1% vs 10.1%, P < 0.001) and no difference in overanticoagulation (2.7% vs 9.1%, P = 0.27). Conclusion: The Mechanical Heart Valve Warfarin Initiation Protocol provided a reliable approach to initiating warfarin in patients receiving mechanical aortic or mitral valves.
- cardiovascular drugs
- clinical pharmacy