Long-term events following atrial fibrillation rate control or transcatheter ablation: a multicenter observational study

Cristina Gallo, Alberto Battaglia, Matteo Anselmino, Francesca Bianchi, Stefano Grossi, Giulia Nangeroni, Elisabetta Toso, Luca Gaido, Marco Scaglione, Federico Ferraris, Fiorenzo Gaita
Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine 2016, 17 (3): 187-93

BACKGROUND: Atrial fibrillation increases thromboembolic risk. Oral anticoagulation with antivitamin K (AVK) reduces thromboembolic event rate, but increases hemorrhagic risk.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of the present study was to describe long-term cerebral thromboembolic/hemorrhagic event rates in atrial fibrillation patients managed by rhythm control, pursued by atrial fibrillation transcatheter ablation (AFTCA), and rate control strategy.

METHODS AND RESULTS: One thousand and five hundred consecutive patients referring to three medical care centers for atrial fibrillation were retrospectively divided into three groups: AFTCA maintaining AVK (group A); AFTCA discontinuing AVK (group B); and rate control strategy and AVK (group C). Thromboembolic and hemorrhagic events were recorded in 60 ± 28 months of follow-up. Thromboembolic events did not differ between the groups (5/500, 1% group A; 7/500, 1.4% group B; 11/500, 2.2% group C; P = 0.45), and hemorrhagic events were greater in group A (9/500, 1.8%) and C (12/500, 2.4%) than in group B (no events; P = 0.003). Among patients with CHA2DS2 VASc score 2 or less, thromboembolic events did not differ in the group discontinuing AVK (group B, 4/388, 1%) or not (group A, 1/319, 0.3%; P = 0.38), whereas hemorrhagic events were more common in patients on AVK (5/319, 1.5% group A and 3/175, 1.7% group C; P = 0.02) compared with those discontinuing AVK (0/388, group B). Following AFTCA (groups A and B), 299/1000 experienced atrial fibrillation relapses; all thromboembolic events (12/299, 4%) occurred within these patients (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Considering this multicenter design study, AVK continuation following AFTCA, especially within patients with low-to-intermediate thromboembolic risk, confers a hemorrhagic risk greater to the thromboembolic protective effect. All thromboembolic events following AFTCA occur within patients experiencing atrial fibrillation relapses; therefore, in patients with high thromboembolic risk routine rhythm monitoring is essential after AVK discontinuation.


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