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The New 2016 European Society of Cardiology/European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery Guidelines: Enough Guidance? Enough Evidence?

For the first time, the European Society of Cardiology and the European Association for Cardio-Thoracic Surgery have joined forces to develop consensus guidelines for the management of atrial fibrillation (AF). One of the main issues is the integrated care of patients with AF, with emphasis on multidisciplinary teams of general physicians, cardiologists, stroke specialists and surgeons, together with the patient's involvement for better management of AF. These guidelines also help in the detection of risk factors and concomitant cardiovascular diseases, stroke prevention therapies, including anticoagulation and antiplatelet therapies after acute coronary episodes, major haemorrhages or strokes. In the field of ablation, surgery plays an important role as concomitant with other surgical procedures, and it should be considered in symptomatic patients with the highest level of evidence. Asymptomatic patients with mitral insufficiency should also be considered for combined mitral and AF surgery if they have new-onset AF. In patients with stand-alone AF, recommendations for minimally invasive ablation have an increased level of recommendation and should be considered as the same level as catheter ablation in patients with persistent or long-standing persistent AF or with paroxysmal AF who fail catheter ablation. Surgical occlusion or exclusion of the left atrial appendage may be considered for stroke prevention in patients with AF about to have surgery. Nevertheless, not enough is known to avoid long-term anticoagulation in patients at risk of stroke even if the left atrial appendage has been excluded. These Guidelines provide a full spectrum of recommendations on the management of patients with AF including prevention, treatment and complications based on the latest published evidence.

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