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Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2017 Jul 10;114(27-28):473-480. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2017.0473.

Aspirin Before Elective Surgery-Stop or Continue?

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Department of Anesthesiology, Center for Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Hamburg, Germany; Department of General and Interventional Cardiology, University Heart Center Hamburg (UHZ), Hamburg, Germany; Institute of Medical Biometry and Epidemiology, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf (UKE), Hamburg, Germany.



Cessation of long-term aspirin treatment before noncardiac surgery can cause adverse cardiac events in patients at risk, particularly in those with previous percutaneous coronary interventions (PCI) with stent implantation. The factors influencing the clinical decision to stop aspirin treatment are currently unknown.


In a single-center, cross-sectional study (retrospective registration: NCT03049566) carried out from February to December 2014, we took a survey among patients scheduled for noncardiac surgery who were under long-term aspirin treatment, and among their treating anesthesiologists using standardized questionnaires on preoperative aspirin use, comorbidities, and risk-benefit assessments. The main objective was to identify factors associated with the decision to stop aspirin treatment. The results of multivariable logistic regressions and intraclass correlations are presented.


805 patients were included in the study, and 636 questionnaires were returned (203 of which concerned patients with coronary stents). 46.8% of the patients stopped their long-term aspirin treatment before surgery; 38.7% of these patients stopped it too early (>10 days before surgery) or too late (≤ 3 days before surgery). A prior PCI with stent implantation lowered the probability of aspirin cessation (odds ratio [OR] = 0.47 [0.31; 0.72]; p <0.001). On the other hand, patients were more likely to stop their long-term aspirin treatment if it had already been discontinued once before (OR = 4.58 [3.06; 6.84]; p <0.001), if there was a risk of bleeding into a closed space (OR = 4.54 [2.02; 10.22]; p <0.001), if they did not know why they were supposed to take aspirin (OR = 2.12 [1.05; 4.28]; p = 0.036), or if the preoperative consultation with the anesthesiologist occurred <2 days before surgery (OR = 1.60 [1.08; 2.37]; p = 0.018). Patients often assessed the risks related to aspirin cessation lower than their physicians did.


This study reveals discordance between guideline recommendations and everyday clinical practice in patients with coronary stents. The early integration of cardiologists and anesthesiologists and a more widespread use of stent implant cards could promote adherence to the guidelines.

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