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Lights and shadows on left atrial appendage occlusion: mind the gap in knowledge and think twice on long-term outcomes.

Ischemic stroke prevention represents a crucial concern in health systems, being associated with high morbidity and mortality. Atrial fibrillation is associated with 15-20% of ischemic strokes, in the presence of thrombus in the left atrial appendage in 90% of patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. Oral anticoagulation represents the standard of care. However, left atrial appendage occlusions have been developed for selected patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. With regard to the latter, particularly, some important concerns have been raised on the selection of patients potentially amenable to the procedure, seemingly emphasizing a gap in knowledge, real-life clinical practice, and current management guidelines. In light of the recent evidence regarding the current indications for management of left atrial appendage in presence of nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, the purpose of this critical review is to highlight the blind spots of left atrial appendage occlusion indications, taking into account the evidence-based mid- to long-term outcomes. Apparently, many unsolved concerns and problems are still present, mainly including mid- and long-term device-related potential complications, the possibility of concurrent sources of embolization, ethical and economic issues. Furthermore, larger, well designed, long-term, multicentric, and more inclusive studies, as well as shared/integrated registries are needed, aiming at comparing direct oral anticoagulation with left atrial appendage occlusion in the long run.

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