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Concept: Atrial fibrillation


Atrial fibrillation, the commonest cardiac arrhythmia, predisposes to thrombus formation and consequently increases risk of ischaemic stroke. Recent years have seen approval of a number of novel oral anticoagulants. Nevertheless, warfarin and aspirin remain the mainstays of therapy. It is widely appreciated that both these agents increase the likelihood of bleeding: there is a popular conception that this risk is greater with warfarin. In fact, well-managed warfarin therapy (INR 2-3) has little effect on bleeding risk and is twice as effective as aspirin at preventing stroke. Patients with atrial fibrillation and a further risk factor for stroke (CHA2DS2-VASc >0) should therefore either receive warfarin or a novel oral agent. The remainder who are at the very lowest risk of stroke are better not prescribed antithrombotic therapy. For stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation; aspirin is rarely the right choice.

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Warfarin, Thrombus, Anticoagulant, Heparin


Left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) using the Watchman device was FDA-approved as a stroke prevention alternative to warfarin for patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation. However, clinical decision-making is confounded by the fact that while LAAC avoids the anticoagulant-related lifetime risk of bleeding, implantation is associated with up-front complications. Thus, enthusiasm for LAAC as a treatment option has been appropriately tempered, particularly as the therapy is introduced beyond the clinical trial sites into general clinical practice.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Atrial flutter, Clinical trial protocol, Left atrial appendage occlusion, Left atrial appendage


Background Specific reversal agents for non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants are lacking. Idarucizumab, an antibody fragment, was developed to reverse the anticoagulant effects of dabigatran. Methods We undertook this prospective cohort study to determine the safety of 5 g of intravenous idarucizumab and its capacity to reverse the anticoagulant effects of dabigatran in patients who had serious bleeding (group A) or required an urgent procedure (group B). The primary end point was the maximum percentage reversal of the anticoagulant effect of dabigatran within 4 hours after the administration of idarucizumab, on the basis of the determination at a central laboratory of the dilute thrombin time or ecarin clotting time. A key secondary end point was the restoration of hemostasis. Results This interim analysis included 90 patients who received idarucizumab (51 patients in group A and 39 in group B). Among 68 patients with an elevated dilute thrombin time and 81 with an elevated ecarin clotting time at baseline, the median maximum percentage reversal was 100% (95% confidence interval, 100 to 100). Idarucizumab normalized the test results in 88 to 98% of the patients, an effect that was evident within minutes. Concentrations of unbound dabigatran remained below 20 ng per milliliter at 24 hours in 79% of the patients. Among 35 patients in group A who could be assessed, hemostasis, as determined by local investigators, was restored at a median of 11.4 hours. Among 36 patients in group B who underwent a procedure, normal intraoperative hemostasis was reported in 33, and mildly or moderately abnormal hemostasis was reported in 2 patients and 1 patient, respectively. One thrombotic event occurred within 72 hours after idarucizumab administration in a patient in whom anticoagulants had not been reinitiated. Conclusions Idarucizumab completely reversed the anticoagulant effect of dabigatran within minutes. (Funded by Boehringer Ingelheim; RE-VERSE AD number, NCT02104947 .).

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Normal distribution, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Dabigatran, Anticoagulants, Direct thrombin inhibitor


We sought to describe the management of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) in Europe after the release of the 2010 AF Guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology.METHODS AND RESULTS: The PREFER in AF registry enrolled consecutive patients with AF from January 2012 to January 2013 in 461 centres in seven European countries. Seven thousand two hundred and forty-three evaluable patients were enrolled, aged 71.5 ± 11 years, 60.1% male, CHA2DS2VASc score 3.4 ± 1.8 (mean ± standard deviation). Thirty per cent patients had paroxysmal, 24.0% had persistent, 7.2% had long-standing persistent, and 38.8% had permanent AF. Oral anticoagulation was used in the majority of patients: 4799 patients (66.3%) received a vitamin K antagonist (VKA) as mono-therapy, 720 patients a combination of VKA and antiplatelet agents (9.9%), 442 patients (6.1%) a new oral anticoagulant drugs (NOAC). Antiplatelet agents alone were given to 808 patients (11.2%), no antithrombotic therapy to 474 patients (6.5%). Of 7034 evaluable patients, 5530 (78.6%) patients were adequately rate controlled (mean heart rate 60-100 bpm). Half of the patients (50.7%) received rhythm control therapy by electrical cardioversion (18.1%), pharmacological cardioversion (19.5%), antiarrhythmic drugs (amiodarone 24.1%, flecainide or propafenone 13.5%, sotalol 5.5%, dronedarone 4.0%), and catheter ablation (5.0%).CONCLUSION: The management of AF patients in 2012 has adapted to recent evidence and guideline recommendations. Oral anticoagulant therapy with VKA (majority) or NOACs is given to over 80% of eligible patients, including those at risk for bleeding. Rate is often adequately controlled, and rhythm control therapy is widely used.

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Standard deviation, Anticoagulant, Amiodarone, Cardioversion, Vitamin K, Flecainide


Although current alcohol consumption is a risk factor for incident atrial fibrillation (AF), the more clinically relevant question may be whether alcohol cessation is associated with a reduced risk.

Concepts: Alcohol, Heart, Atrial fibrillation, Atrial flutter, Alcoholic beverage


Alcohol consumption has been associated with atrial fibrillation (AF) in several epidemiologic studies, but the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. We sought to test the hypothesis that an atrial myopathy, manifested by echocardiographic left atrial enlargement, explains the association between chronic alcohol use and AF.

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, The Association


To evaluate the association between chocolate intake and incident clinically apparent atrial fibrillation or flutter (AF).

Concepts: Atrial fibrillation, Weight loss, The Association, Atrial flutter


Background Dabigatran is an oral direct thrombin inhibitor that has been shown to be an effective alternative to warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation. We evaluated the use of dabigatran in patients with mechanical heart valves. Methods In this phase 2 dose-validation study, we studied two populations of patients: those who had undergone aortic- or mitral-valve replacement within the past 7 days and those who had undergone such replacement at least 3 months earlier. Patients were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive either dabigatran or warfarin. The selection of the initial dabigatran dose (150, 220, or 300 mg twice daily) was based on kidney function. Doses were adjusted to obtain a trough plasma level of at least 50 ng per milliliter. The warfarin dose was adjusted to obtain an international normalized ratio of 2 to 3 or 2.5 to 3.5 on the basis of thromboembolic risk. The primary end point was the trough plasma level of dabigatran. Results The trial was terminated prematurely after the enrollment of 252 patients because of an excess of thromboembolic and bleeding events among patients in the dabigatran group. In the as-treated analysis, dose adjustment or discontinuation of dabigatran was required in 52 of 162 patients (32%). Ischemic or unspecified stroke occurred in 9 patients (5%) in the dabigatran group and in no patients in the warfarin group; major bleeding occurred in 7 patients (4%) and 2 patients (2%), respectively. All patients with major bleeding had pericardial bleeding. Conclusions The use of dabigatran in patients with mechanical heart valves was associated with increased rates of thromboembolic and bleeding complications, as compared with warfarin, thus showing no benefit and an excess risk. (Funded by Boehringer Ingelheim; numbers, NCT01452347 and NCT01505881 .).

Concepts: Blood, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Coagulation, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Dabigatran, Boehringer Ingelheim


Background In patients with atrial fibrillation undergoing percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) with placement of stents, standard anticoagulation with a vitamin K antagonist plus dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) with a P2Y12 inhibitor and aspirin reduces the risk of thrombosis and stroke but increases the risk of bleeding. The effectiveness and safety of anticoagulation with rivaroxaban plus either one or two antiplatelet agents are uncertain. Methods We randomly assigned 2124 participants with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation who had undergone PCI with stenting to receive, in a 1:1:1 ratio, low-dose rivaroxaban (15 mg once daily) plus a P2Y12 inhibitor for 12 months (group 1), very-low-dose rivaroxaban (2.5 mg twice daily) plus DAPT for 1, 6, or 12 months (group 2), or standard therapy with a dose-adjusted vitamin K antagonist (once daily) plus DAPT for 1, 6, or 12 months (group 3). The primary safety outcome was clinically significant bleeding (a composite of major bleeding or minor bleeding according to Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction [TIMI] criteria or bleeding requiring medical attention). Results The rates of clinically significant bleeding were lower in the two groups receiving rivaroxaban than in the group receiving standard therapy (16.8% in group 1, 18.0% in group 2, and 26.7% in group 3; hazard ratio for group 1 vs. group 3, 0.59; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.47 to 0.76; P<0.001; hazard ratio for group 2 vs. group 3, 0.63; 95% CI, 0.50 to 0.80; P<0.001). The rates of death from cardiovascular causes, myocardial infarction, or stroke were similar in the three groups (Kaplan-Meier estimates, 6.5% in group 1, 5.6% in group 2, and 6.0% in group 3; P values for all comparisons were nonsignificant). Conclusions In participants with atrial fibrillation undergoing PCI with placement of stents, the administration of either low-dose rivaroxaban plus a P2Y12 inhibitor for 12 months or very-low-dose rivaroxaban plus DAPT for 1, 6, or 12 months was associated with a lower rate of clinically significant bleeding than was standard therapy with a vitamin K antagonist plus DAPT for 1, 6, or 12 months. The three groups had similar efficacy rates, although the observed broad confidence intervals diminish the surety of any conclusions regarding efficacy. (Funded by Janssen Scientific Affairs and Bayer Pharmaceuticals; PIONEER AF-PCI number, NCT01830543 .).

Concepts: Myocardial infarction, Cardiology, Percutaneous coronary intervention, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Warfarin, Aspirin, Anticoagulant


Whether coffee consumption affects the risk of developing atrial fibrillation (AF) remains unclear. We sought to investigate the association between coffee consumption and incidence of AF in two prospective cohorts, and to summarize available evidence using a meta-analysis.

Concepts: Heart, Atrial fibrillation, Coffee, The Association, Atrial flutter