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Contraindications to thrombolysis in patients taking coumarins

Three Part Question

In [a patient with myocardial infarction who is anticoagulated] at what [INR] is [thrombolysis contraindicated]?

Clinical Scenario

A 73 year old woman presents to the emergency department with chest pain. Her ECG shows left bundle branch block. She is on warfarin for recurrent pulmonary emboli. Her INR is 2.7. While you look for her old notes to see if LBBB is new or not, you try to find out at what INR thrombolysis is contraindicated. Everyone gives you an answer, but the answers are all different. You wonder if there is any evidence to support any of the recommendations.

Search Strategy

Medline 1966-10/02 using the OVID interface.
[exp urinary plasminogen activator OR exp thrombolytic therapy OR exp fibrinolysis OR exp tissue plasminogen activator OR exp fibrinolytic agents OR exp streptokinase OR thromboly$.af OR OR OR OR (tissue adj5 plasminogen adj5 activator).af OR fibrinoly$.af OR plasminogen] AND [exp International Normalized Ratio OR OR exp warfarin OR OR (International adj5 normalized adj5 ratio).af OR (International adj5 normalised adj5 ratio).af OR OR OR (British adj 5 standardised adj5 ratio).af OR (Brtitish adj5 standardized adj5 ratio).af OR ] AND [exp myocardial infarction OR (myocard$ adj5 infarct$).af OR (heart adj5 attack).af OR] LIMIT to human AND English.

Search Outcome

Altogether 296 papers found none of which were relevant to the three-part question.


Although various guidelines exist for thrombolysis in a patient who is anticoagulated, there does not seem to be any research evidence base for this.

Clinical Bottom Line

Local advice should be followed.