Dabigatran Versus Warfarin in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: An Analysis of Patients Undergoing Cardioversion


BACKGROUND: The Randomized Evaluation of Long-Term Anticoagulation Therapy (RE-LY) trial compared dabigatran 110 mg BID (D110) and 150 mg BID (D150) with warfarin for stroke prevention in 18 113 patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation.

METHODS AND RESULTS: Cardioversion on randomized treatment was permitted. Precardioversion transesophageal echocardiography was encouraged, particularly in dabigatran-assigned patients. Data from before, during, and 30 days after cardioversion were analyzed. A total of 1983 cardioversions were performed in 1270 patients: 647, 672, and 664 in the D110, D150, and warfarin groups, respectively. For D110, D150, and warfarin, transesophageal echocardiography was performed before 25.5%, 24.1%, and 13.3% of cardioversions, of which 1.8%, 1.2%, and 1.1% were positive for left atrial thrombi. Continuous treatment with study drug for ≥3 weeks before cardioversion was lower in D110 (76.4%) and D150 (79.2%) compared with warfarin (85.5%; P<0.01 for both). Stroke and systemic embolism rates at 30 days were 0.8%, 0.3%, and 0.6% (D110 versus warfarin, P=0.71; D150 versus warfarin, P=0.40) and similar in patients with and without transesophageal echocardiography. Major bleeding rates were 1.7%, 0.6%, and 0.6% (D110 versus warfarin, P=0.06; D150 versus warfarin, P=0.99).

CONCLUSIONS: This study is the largest cardioversion experience to date and the first to evaluate a novel anticoagulant in this setting. The frequencies of stroke and major bleeding within 30 days of cardioversion on the 2 doses of dabigatran were low and comparable to those on warfarin with or without transesophageal echocardiography guidance. Dabigatran is a reasonable alternative to warfarin in patients requiring cardioversion.

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Circulation. 2011;123:131-136