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The n e w e ng l a n d j o u r na l of m e dic i n e

2. Hausenloy DJ, Yellon DM. Targeting myocardial reperfusion but not of diabetes. To our knowledge, there is
injury the search continues. N Engl J Med 2015;373:1073-5.
no evidence so far that diabetes might prevent
3. Basso E, Fante L, Fowlkes J, Petronilli V, Forte MA, Bernardi
P. Properties of the permeability transition pore in mitochondria any cyclosporine-induced protection.
devoid of Cyclophilin D. J Biol Chem 2005;280:18558-61. Zografos and Katritsis hypothesize that clop-
4. Zulian A, Rizzo E, Schiavone M, et al. NIM811, a cyclophilin
idogrel might have interfered with the pharma-
inhibitor without immunosuppressive activity, is beneficial in
collagen VI congenital muscular dystrophy models. Hum Mol cokinetic properties of cyclosporine and pre-
Genet 2014;23:5353-63. vented its protective effect. Only 2.7% of the
5. Roy S, ileikyt J, Schiavone M, et al. Discovery, synthesis,
and optimization of diarylisoxazole-3-carboxamides as potent
patients in our trial received clopidogrel, where-
inhibitors of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore. as 63.2% received prasugrel and 34.1% received
ChemMedChem 2015;10:1655-71. ticagrelor. We have no evidence that clopidogrel
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1514192 had any effect on cardiovascular events.
Bernardi and Di Lisa propose that after its
The authors reply: Santos-Gallego and Badi- binding to cyclophilin D, cyclosporine delays,
mon hypothesize that patients who underwent but does not fully inhibit, the PTP, which might
PCI reperfusion within the first 120 minutes af- explain the lack of effect in patients with acute
ter the onset of ischemia might benefit from the myocardial infarction. However, pharmacologic
protection afforded by cyclosporine. To our knowl- or genetic inhibition of cyclophilin D is suffi-
edge, there is no experimental evidence that cy- cient in most animal models to significantly
closporine might be more effective after a short reduce infarct size.3 Prolonged administration of
period of ischemia. In our study, cyclosporine did cyclosporine may certainly be detrimental after
not salvage myocardial tissue, regardless of the acute myocardial infarction, mainly because it
duration of ischemia, including in the 12.5% of might facilitate adverse left ventricular remodel-
patients with less than 2 hours of ischemia. The ing.4 However, a single intravenous injection of
87.5% of patients with 2 hours of ischemia or cyclosporine was used in this trial, and we did
more, in whom larger infarcts developed and not observe any related increase in left ventric-
who had a worse clinical outcome, would cer- ular remodeling. We agree that the results of
tainly have had the most benefit from any protec- CIRCUS do not challenge the concept of reperfu-
tion against reperfusion injury. sion injury.
Pottecher et al. suggest that confounders, in- Nathan Mewton, M.D., Ph.D.
cluding preexisting angina, coronary collateral Cyrille Bergerot, M.D.
vessels, or diabetes may explain the lack of a Michel Ovize, M.D., Ph.D.
protective effect of cyclosporine. Previous phase 2 Hospices Civils de Lyon
trials have shown that postconditioning angio- Lyon, France
michel.ovize@chu-lyon.fr
plasty reduces infarct size, although some patients
Since publication of their article, the authors report no fur-
might have had preexisting angina.1,2 A per- ther potential conflict of interest.
protocol analysis showed that exclusion of pa-
1. Staat P, Rioufol G, Piot C, et al. Postconditioning the human
tients with coronary collateral vessels did not heart. Circulation 2005;112:2143-8.
modify the CIRCUS results. Experimental data 2. Thibault H, Piot C, Staat P, et al. Long-term benefit of post-
conditioning. Circulation 2008;117:1037-44.
suggest that hyperglycemic (but not diabetic) ani-
3. Argaud L, Gateau-Roesch O, Raisky O, Loufouat J, Robert D,
mals may be resistant to postconditioning induced Ovize M. Postconditioning inhibits mitochondrial permeability
by brief episodes of ischemia and reperfusion transition. Circulation 2005;111:194-7.
4. Mewton N, Croisille P, Gahide G, et al. Effect of cyclosporine
but not by cyclosporine. Transient hyperglycemia
on left ventricular remodeling after reperfused myocardial in-
in patients with acute myocardial infarction may farction. J Am Coll Cardiol 2010;55:1200-5.
be indicative of a sympathetic system activation DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1514192

Bridging Anticoagulation in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation


To the Editor: Douketis et al. (Aug. 27 issue)1 sive Procedure or Surgery (BRIDGE) trial. They
report on the results of the Bridging Anticoagu- conclude that in patients with atrial fibrillation
lation in Patients who Require Temporary Inter- who required an operation or procedure, a strat-
ruption of Warfarin Therapy for an Elective Inva- egy of discontinuing warfarin treatment without

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Correspondence

the use of bridging anticoagulation was noninfe- (CHADS2 scores range from 1 to 6, with higher
rior to the use of bridging anticoagulation for the scores indicating a greater risk of stroke) of the
prevention of arterial thromboembolism. patients was 2.3, and patients with high CHADS2
However, in the study methods, they did not scores (5 or 6) composed only 3% of the study
take into account silent stroke. Silent stroke is population. Among these latter patients, annual
defined as the evidence of infarction on brain stroke rates range from 12 to 18%.1 This high
imaging without a clinical finding of acute neu- risk of stroke probably exceeds the risk of major
rologic deficit related to that lesion. The preva- bleeding; therefore, this group of patients might
lence of silent stroke is much higher than the benefit from bridging therapy.
prevalence of stroke with neurologic deficit,2 Second, the majority of the patients under-
especially among patients with atrial fibrilla- went procedures such as gastrointestinal endos-
tion3 and those who are undergoing high-risk copy (including biopsies) that are associated with
procedures,4 and it is associated with long-term a low risk of bleeding. There is general consen-
complications (e.g., neurocognitive dysfunction sus that these procedures can be performed while
and psychiatric disorders).5 the patient is continuing to receive anticoagula-
We think this is an important study that will tion therapy.2 Data are lacking from a trial that
improve care for selected patients who receive compares forgoing bridging with bridging with
anticoagulation therapy yet need procedures that low-molecular-weight heparin in patients who
require temporary discontinuation of this thera- have a moderate-to-high risk of arterial thrombo-
py. However, we think there is a need for caution embolism and a CHADS2 score of 5 or 6 and who
until future studies include an assessment of are undergoing major surgery such as carotid
silent stroke and its effect on function. endarterectomy and major surgery for cancer.
Andrea Duca, M.D. Roel Vink, M.D., Ph.D.
Ospedale San Raffaele Tergooi Hospital
Milan, Italy Hilversum, the Netherlands
duca.andrea@hsr.it rovink@tergooi.nl
Andy Jagoda, M.D. Maaike Sohne, M.D., Ph.D.
Mount Sinai Hospital St. Antonius Hospital
New York, NY Nieuwegein, the Netherlands
Dr. Jagoda reports being a member of Brain Attack Coalition MennoV. Huisman, M.D., Ph.D.
and serving on advisory boards for Pfizer, Boehringer Ingel-
Leiden University Medical Center
heim, and AstraZeneca. No other potential conflict of interest
Leiden, the Netherlands
relevant to this letter was reported.
No potential conflict of interest relevant to this letter was re-
1. Douketis JD, Spyropoulos AC, Kaatz S, et al. Perioperative ported.
bridging anticoagulation in patients with atrial fibrillation.
N Engl J Med 2015;373:823-33. 1. Gage BF, Waterman AD, Shannon W, Boechler M, Rich MW,
2. Sacco RL, Kasner SE, Broderick JP, et al. An updated defini- Radford MJ. Validation of clinical classification schemes for pre-
tion of stroke for the 21st century: a statement for healthcare dicting stroke: results from the National Registry of Atrial Fibril-
professionals from the American Heart Association/American lation. JAMA 2001;285:2864-70.
Stroke Association. Stroke 2013;44:2064-89. 2. Veitch AM, Baglin TP, Gershlick AH, Harnden SM, Tighe R,
3. Kalantarian S, Ay H, Gollub RL, et al. Association between Cairns S. Guidelines for the management of anticoagulant and
atrial fibrillation and silent cerebral infarctions: a systematic antiplatelet therapy in patients undergoing endoscopic proce-
review and meta-analysis. Ann Intern Med 2014;161:650-8. dures. Gut 2008;57:1322-9.
4. Hassell ME, Nijveldt R, Roos YB, et al. Silent cerebral in- DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1513255
farcts associated with cardiac disease and procedures. Nat Rev
Cardiol 2013;10:696-706.
5. Fanning JP, Wesley AJ, Wong AA, Fraser JF. Emerging spec- To the Editor: In the BRIDGE trial, bridging
tra of silent brain infarction. Stroke 2014;45:3461-71.
with low-molecular-weight heparin significantly
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1513255
increased the risk of major bleeding without de-
creasing the risk of thromboembolism among
To the Editor: The central question about the patients with atrial fibrillation who were deemed
BRIDGE trial is whether it investigated the right to require interruption of vitamin K antagonists
target population of patients who were undergo- for invasive procedures. It was surprising that the
ing the relevant target procedures. First, most of rate of myocardial infarction was not significant-
the patients were classified as having a low risk ly higher in the bridging group than in the no-
of thromboembolism. The mean CHADS2 score bridging group (1.6% vs. 0.8%), although fatal

n engl j med 374;1nejm.org January 7, 2016 91


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The n e w e ng l a n d j o u r na l of m e dic i n e

myocardial infarctions were observed only in the year, nearly 250,000 North Americans require in-
no-bridging group (two of seven patients with terruption of an oral anticoagulant for invasive
myocardial infarction died). It would be useful to procedures.1 The question of to bridge or not to
know whether these events were due to ischemic bridge poses a conundrum for many providers.
imbalance related to major bleeding (myocar- There are two issues that we think, if expand-
dial infarction type 2)1 rather than to thrombotic ed on, would allow better applicability of the
events. findings of the trial. First, the authors do not
Temporary discontinuation of vitamin K an- provide specific reasons why 544 patients were
tagonists and nonvitamin K antagonist oral withdrawn from enrollment by their physicians.
anticoagulants leads to a similar thromboem- Since clinicians need to use their judgment in
bolic risk2,3 and, as with vitamin K antagonists, weighing the risks and benefits of anticoagulant
a higher bleeding risk occurs with bridging dur- bridging, further information about patients
ing discontinuation of nonvitamin K antagonist who were deemed to be too high risk for study
oral anticoagulant therapy.2 Because of the phar- inclusion would be useful.
macologic properties of nonvitamin K antago- Second, it would be helpful to evaluate the
nist oral anticoagulants, caution is needed in association between bleeding prediction formu-
applying the results of the BRIDGE trial to pa- las (e.g., the Hypertension, Abnormal Renal/Liver
tients with atrial fibrillation who receive these Function, Stroke, Bleeding History or Predispo-
agents. The usefulness of low-molecular-weight sition, Labile INR, Elderly [>65 years], Drugs/
heparin may be limited to patients with immo- Alcohol Concomitantly [HAS-BLED] score) and
bility who require early postoperative venous the risk of periprocedural bleeding in both trial
thromboprophylactic anticoagulation, with de- groups, since this information may help deter-
ferred resumption of full-dose anticoagulation.4 mine whether these scores predict which pa-
To our knowledge, the use of nonvitamin K tients may benefit from a specific strategy. Al-
antagonist oral anticoagulants at a reduced or though this study is timely, we think that the
thromboprophylactic dose in patients with atrial additional information we suggest would help
fibrillation has not yet been studied.4 providers use a more targeted, patient-specific
Daniel Caldeira, M.D. approach in clinical practice.
Joao Costa, M.D., Ph.D. Boris Arbit, M.D.
University of Lisbon Jennifer Padwal, B.S.
Lisbon, Portugal
Jonathan Hsu, M.D.
dgcaldeira@hotmail.com
University of California, San Diego
JoaquimJ. Ferreira, M.D., Ph.D. San Diego, CA
Instituto de Medicina Molecular jonathan.hsu@ucsd.edu
Lisbon, Portugal No potential conflict of interest relevant to this letter was re-
No potential conflict of interest relevant to this letter was re- ported.
ported.
1. Douketis JD, Spyropoulos AC, Spencer FA, et al. Periopera-
1. Thygesen K, Alpert JS, Jaffe AS, et al. Third universal defini- tive management of antithrombotic therapy:Antithrombotic
tion of myocardial infarction. Eur Heart J 2012;33:2551-67. Therapy and Prevention of Thrombosis, 9th ed:American Col-
2. Douketis JD, Healey JS, Brueckmann M, et al. Perioperative lege of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guide-
bridging anticoagulation during dabigatran or warfarin interrup- lines. Chest 2012;141:Suppl:e326S-50S.
tion among patients who had an elective surgery or procedure: DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1513255
substudy of the RE-LY trial. Thromb Haemost 2015;113:625-32.
3. Caldeira D, Costa J, Ferreira JJ, Pinto FJ. Thromboembolic
To the Editor: I would like to call attention to
risk in the initiation, switch and interruption/re-initiation of
oral anticoagulants: do newcomers improve outcomes? Insights
one issue of concern in the article by Douketis
from a meta-analysis of RCTs. Int J Cardiol 2014;177:117-9.
et al. As stated in the Discussion section, choos-
4. Heidbuchel H, Verhamme P, Alings M, et al. European Heart
ing a noninferiority margin of 1.0%, not depend-
Rhythm Association Practical Guide on the use of new oral anti-
coagulants in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.
Europace 2013;15:625-51.
ing on the actual rate of thromboembolic events
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1513255 (absolute risk), increases the relative risk that is
considered acceptable if the actual event rate is
lower than expected.
To the Editor: We think that the study reported If, as planned in the protocol, the rate of
by Douketis et al. is highly relevant, since every thromboembolic events had been 1.0% in the

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Correspondence

bridging group, the relative risk that would be did not assess determinants that might explain
considered acceptable for noninferiority would the higher number of myocardial infarctions in
have been 2.0 (calculated as the sum of 1.0% the bridging group than in the no-bridging group.
plus 1.0% divided by 1.0%). Doubling the risk We agree that caution is needed when extrapo-
would have been considered an acceptable in- lating the findings of our trial to patients who
crease in the risk of thromboembolic events in require interruption of a direct oral anticoagu-
the no-bridging group. lant for an operation or a procedure.
However, since the actual risk in the bridging Arbit and colleagues raise concern that 544
group is only 0.3%, the relative risk considered screened patients were deemed ineligible by their
to be acceptable is 4.3 (the sum of 1.0% plus physicians. However, this number constituted
0.3% divided by 0.3%). The acceptable risk with only 12% of patients who were excluded for rea-
respect to the rate of thromboembolic events is sons other than that they might have been
thus increased by a factor of 4. I am not sure this deemed to be too high risk to participate in the
risk should be considered to be acceptable. In trial. A study is under way to assess predictors
practice, I think that patients for whom a no- of perioperative bleeding in our trial and the
bridging strategy will be proposed should be told usefulness of bleeding prediction scores, includ-
that the risk of thromboembolic events will prob- ing HAS-BLED.3
ably not be increased by more than a factor of 4. In reply to Clapin: the use of a relative-risk
Alexis Clapin, M.D. measure for rare events is potentially problem-
11 rue Treilhard atic.4 The BRIDGE trial was designed so that
Paris, France there was not a large difference between the
etudesetbiasis@gmail.com
rates of thromboembolic events in the no-bridg-
No potential conflict of interest relevant to this letter was re-
ported. ing group and the bridging group. A consensus
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1513255 determination by clinicians was that an absolute
difference of 1.0% should be ruled out to ensure
The authors reply: Duca and Jagoda infer that that result. This was part of the original trial
detection of silent stroke would have been an im- protocol, but it was not incorporated into the
portant outcome to measure. This would have informed-consent documents. The BRIDGE steer-
necessitated routine imaging to detect subclini- ing committee was aware of the implications of
cal events, adding cost and complexity to the in- the noninferiority margin on the observed low-
tentionally simple study design. Moreover, data er-than-expected rate of thromboembolism but
are lacking on the incidence and clinical signifi- determined that it was acceptable, given the low
cance of perioperative silent stroke among pa- absolute event rate and the need to adhere to the
tients who are undergoing types of surgery that prespecified analysis plan.
are associated with an increased risk of stroke.1 JamesD. Douketis, M.D.
Vink and colleagues question whether the McMaster University
findings of the BRIDGE trial are applicable to Hamilton, ON, Canada
patients who have atrial fibrillation and a Vic Hasselblad, Ph.D.
CHADS2 score of 5 or 6 and those undergoing Duke Clinical Research Institute
high-risk operations. Patients with a CHADS2 Durham, NC
score of 5 or 6 constituted 3% of the study ThomasL. Ortel, M.D., Ph.D.
population, but such patients are infrequently Duke University Medical Center
observed in clinical practice. The types of opera- Durham, NC
thomas.ortel@duke.edu
tions or procedures observed in our trial reflected
Since publication of their article, the authors report no fur-
those described in other studies involving pa- ther potential conflict of interest.
tients who were assessed for bridging. Overall,
2

we interpret the results as being applicable to 1. Kaatz S, Douketis JD, Zhou H, Gage BF, White RH. Risk of
stroke after surgery in patients with and without chronic atrial
most patients with atrial fibrillation who are as- fibrillation. J Thromb Haemost 2010;8:884-90.
sessed for periprocedural management of anti- 2. Healey JS, Eikelboom J, Douketis J, et al. Periprocedural
coagulant therapy. bleeding and thromboembolic events with dabigatran compared
with warfarin: results from the Randomized Evaluation of Long-
With regard to the comments of Caldeira Term Anticoagulation Therapy (RE-LY) randomized trial. Circu-
etal.: because of the small number of events, we lation 2012;126:343-8.

n engl j med 374;1nejm.org January 7, 2016 93


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The n e w e ng l a n d j o u r na l of m e dic i n e

3. OBrien EC, Simon DN, Thomas LE, et al. The ORBIT bleed- current problems in meta-analysis: discussion from the Agency
ing score: a simple bedside score to assess bleeding risk in atrial for Health Care Policy and Research inter-PORT Work Group on
fibrillation. Eur Heart J 2015 September 29 (Epub ahead of print). Literature Review/Meta-Analysis. Med Care 1995;33:202-20.
4. Hasselblad V, Mosteller F, Littenberg B, et al. A survey of DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1513255

Cannabinoids in the Treatment of Epilepsy


To the Editor: The need for effective antisei- 4. Harris CR, Brown A. Synthetic cannabinoid intoxication:
a case series and review. J Emerg Med 2013;44:360-6.
zure drugs in addition to available compounds is 5. Geffrey AL, Pollack SF, Bruno PL, Thiele EA. Drug-drug inter-
obvious. The review article by Friedman and action between clobazam and cannabidiol in children with re-
Devinsky (Sept. 10 issue)1 highlights experimental fractory epilepsy. Epilepsia 2015;56:1246-51.
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc1512758
data that suggest antiseizure effects of cannabi-
noids. However, the overview of studies indicating
that cannabinoids can also provoke seizures The authors reply: We agree with the assess-
seems incomplete, since studies examining the ment by Killestein. Studies showing that 9-THC
effects of recreational use of cannabis and other or synthetic cannabinoid agonists can provoke or
studies suggest serious adverse effects, including exacerbate seizures or interact with other drugs
clinically significant drugdrug interactions, in suggest that caution should be used when study-
patients who have epilepsy with or without un- ing and administering medications containing
derlying conditions.2-5 these compounds. In our article, we noted anec-
I agree that data are lacking from well-con- dotal reports of seizures that were provoked by
trolled clinical trials on the antiseizure proper- cannabis use,1 and we noted that cannabidiol can
ties of cannabinoids. However, it is well docu- increase the levels of the N-desmethyl metabolite
mented that cannabinoids can also provoke of clobazam and increase the antiseizure and
seizures, depending on the content of the can- toxic effects of this drug.2
nabidiol and 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (9-THC), However, although some currently marketed
the ratio of these two agents in the products antiseizure medications are associated with clin-
used, and the underlying conditions in the pa- ically significant drugdrug interactions or may
tient. Thus, the authors suggestion regarding rarely provoke seizures in some patients, these
relaxation of the regulatory status of cannabis- side effects do not outweigh the overall benefit
derived drugs seems less applicable to the treat- of the drugs. At this time, we think that the
ment of epilepsy than to the treatment of other weight of the limited evidence suggests that there
conditions in which the therapeutic application may be a benefit associated with some cannabi-
of cannabinoids has been considered. Trials noids in the treatment of epilepsy and little solid
should be performed cautiously, with carefully scientific evidence that cannabis that contains
planned safety monitoring and early interim various mixtures of cannabidiol and 9-THC can
analyses by independent boards, in order to not provoke seizures. Therefore, we support the re-
overlook subgroups of patients who may have an laxation of restrictions to allow further scien-
undesirable increase in epileptic activity. tific study. We do not yet know the overall risks
Joep Killestein, M.D., Ph.D. and benefits of cannabinoids in the treatment of
VU University Medical Center epilepsy, but we hope that randomized, con-
Amsterdam, the Netherlands trolled studies will answer these questions soon.
j.killestein@vumc.nl
Daniel Friedman, M.D.
No potential conflict of interest relevant to this letter was re-
ported. Orrin Devinsky, M.D.
New York University Langone School of Medicine
1. Friedman D, Devinsky O. Cannabinoids in the treatment of New York, NY
epilepsy. N Engl J Med 2015;373:1048-58. daniel.friedman@nyumc.org
2. Keeler MH, Reifler CB. Grand mal convulsions subsequent In addition to previously disclosed financial relationships,
to marijuana use: case report. Dis Nerv Syst 1967;28:474-5. Dr. Friedman reports the following financial relationships in
3. Wade DT, Makela PM, House H, Bateman C, Robson P. Long- existence at the time of publication of the review article: receiv-
term use of a cannabis-based medicine in the treatment of spas- ing consulting fees through his institution from Acorda Thera-
ticity and other symptoms in multiple sclerosis. Mult Scler 2006; peutics and Alexza Pharmaceuticals and grant support through
12:639-45. his institution from UCB. Dr. Friedmans disclosure form has

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