Uninterrupted anticoagulation with non‐vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants in atrial fibrillation catheter ablation: Lessons learned from randomized trials


Catheter ablation has been established as a rhythm control strategy in selected patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) who have failed or wish to avoid anti‐arrhythmic drugs. Uninterrupted oral anticoagulation with vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) peri‐ablation is associated with a lower risk of thromboembolic and bleeding complications as compared to interrupted oral anticoagulation and bridging heparin. However, a substantial portion of patients with AF are treated with non‐vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs). Herein, we perform an in‐depth review and comparison of three recent randomized trials of uninterrupted oral anticoagulation with NOACs vs VKAs in patients undergoing AF catheter ablation. Furthermore, we report pooled results of these randomized trials. The pooled incidence of major bleeding was significantly lower with NOACs as compared to VKAs (2% vs 4.9%, respectively; odds ratio [OR] 0.40; 95% confidence intervals [CI] 0.16‐0.99). Similarly, cardiac tamponade was also reduced in the NOAC group (0.4% vs 1.5%; OR 0.27; 95% CI 0.07‐0.97). Thromboembolic complications were not significantly different between groups. Overall, these findings support the 2017 HRS/EHRA/ECAS/APHRS/SOLAECE expert consensus statement's class I recommendation for uninterrupted NOAC use in patients undergoing AF catheter ablation.

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Cardoso R, Willems S, Gerstenfeld EP, et al. Clin Cardiol 2019;42:198–205.