Anticoagulation and Bleeding in Patients With Ventricular Assist Devices: Walking the Tightrope

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Abstract

A left ventricular assist device (LVAD) is a lifesaving therapy for end-stage heart failure, but it is associated with major complications such as bleeding and thrombosis. Anticoagulation is an important part of LVAD therapy; it requires meticulous management and monitoring for prevention of thromboembolic and bleeding events. Recommendations for thromboprophylaxis vary among pulsatile and nonpulsatile devices and require multiple pharmacological agents to achieve adequate anticoagulation. Patients expected to undergo LVAD implantation must have a comprehensive evaluation for underlying coagulopathies. During the perioperative period, all measures must be taken to prevent excessive bleeding and maintain hemostasis. Postoperative bleeding and thromboembolic episodes must be minimized to prevent significant complications of ventricular assist device therapy. Bleeding and thromboembolism are an impediment to a patient's quality of life as they can result in multiple hospitalizations, along with serious consequences such as death and permanent disability.

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