Is it safe to stop blood thinners for a few days for a surgery?

Jagdish asked...

I have undergone Angioplasty for correction of 1 block in one of my arteries and 1 stent has been put in. I take Plavix + Ecosprin ( Aspirin ) 75 mg alongwith Betaloc , cardace & Aztor ( for cholesterol control )

I wish to undergo Hair Transplant surgery ( FHT) and was advised to stop all blood thinners medicines 6 days before the surgery.

My cardiologist is totally against stopping of the blood thinners and has advised me not to stop them at all. However the Surgeon doing the Hair transplant claims that he has done sugery of several heart patients ( even those who have suffered heart attacks and are taking blood thinners ) and all of them stopped these medicines for 5 days with no adverse results.

I have been also seeing posts on the internet by several people and doctors who have advised not to stop blood thinners.

I wish to get the hair transplant done since I am a actor and this adversely affect my work. However I am very much scared with the possibility that I have been told of ( that of suffering a stroke if I stop ! ) .

I am totally confused with opposite views from both dcotors and would like to know what would you advise in this case ? Is there a serious risk of a heart attack for me if i stop the thinners for 5 days ?

I have also jeard that once you stop, you need to re-start the thinner is a planned way and not just pop it anytime u wish to after having stopped for a while.

Please let me have your response so I may weigh your suggestions as well

Expert Answer

Carolyn Strimike, N.P. and Margie Latrella, N.P. are cardiac nurse practitioners specializing in the prevention of heart disease and stroke. They have over 40 years of nursing experience in Cardiology between them. The main goal of their work is to counsel, motivate and empower women to adopt healthy lifestyle choices.

The anti-platelet medications aspirin and Plavix are VERY IMPORTANT to take after having a stent placed in one of the heart arteries. These medications are commonly called blood thinners but are actually anti-platelet meds which mean they also prevent blood clots from forming by preventing platelets (which are a type of blood cell) from clumping together - which is the intial process of a blood clot. I agree completely with your cardiologist - this is the healthcare provider who should be making the decision when it is okay to temporary stop the "blood thinners" before surgery. It takes time for the metal on the heart stent to grow tissue over it, so the metal is exposed to the blood and that is why you need the anti-platelet or "blood thinning" medications. If you were to stop the medications too early, before the tissue is covering the metal of the stent - blood clots can form. These blood clots could totally block off the blood vessel in the heart and lead to a heart attack. I worked in the heart catheterization lab for many years and unfortunately saw many patients come in with heart attacks because they stopped their Aspirin and/or Plavix too early or temporarily before elective surgery. You should talk to your cardiologist and find out when he/she feels it would be safe to temporarily stop your Aspirin and Plavix, it depends on the type of stent you received and if it was a "medicated stent" (which could require Aspirin and Plavix therapy even longer).


Uncle Joe, We definitely agree that each person needs to discuss their individual situation with their healthcare provider.

Just to clarify INR monitoring is necessary with warfarin/coumadin ("true" anticoagulants) Plavix and Aspirin, do not affect the same pathway they are antiplatelet medications and INR monitoring is not helpful.