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Concept: Atrial fibrillation


Oral anticoagulant therapy is used to prevent thrombosis in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), venous thrombosis and prosthetic heart valves. The introduction of new therapies emphasizes the need to discern the best practice for the patients remaining on warfarin treatment. This study compares patient characteristics and therapeutic control in two settings managing warfarin treatment: Swedish primary health care centers (PHCC) and specialized anticoagulation clinics (ACC).

Concepts: Medicine, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Heparin, Prothrombin time


Thyroid hormone is essential for normal metabolism and development, and overt abnormalities in thyroid function lead to common endocrine disorders affecting approximately 10% of individuals over their life span. In addition, even mild alterations in thyroid function are associated with weight changes, atrial fibrillation, osteoporosis, and psychiatric disorders. To identify novel variants underlying thyroid function, we performed a large meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for serum levels of the highly heritable thyroid function markers TSH and FT4, in up to 26,420 and 17,520 euthyroid subjects, respectively. Here we report 26 independent associations, including several novel loci for TSH (PDE10A, VEGFA, IGFBP5, NFIA, SOX9, PRDM11, FGF7, INSR, ABO, MIR1179, NRG1, MBIP, ITPK1, SASH1, GLIS3) and FT4 (LHX3, FOXE1, AADAT, NETO1/FBXO15, LPCAT2/CAPNS2). Notably, only limited overlap was detected between TSH and FT4 associated signals, in spite of the feedback regulation of their circulating levels by the hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis. Five of the reported loci (PDE8B, PDE10A, MAF/LOC440389, NETO1/FBXO15, and LPCAT2/CAPNS2) show strong gender-specific differences, which offer clues for the known sexual dimorphism in thyroid function and related pathologies. Importantly, the TSH-associated loci contribute not only to variation within the normal range, but also to TSH values outside the reference range, suggesting that they may be involved in thyroid dysfunction. Overall, our findings explain, respectively, 5.64% and 2.30% of total TSH and FT4 trait variance, and they improve the current knowledge of the regulation of hypothalamic-pituitary-thyroid axis function and the consequences of genetic variation for hypo- or hyperthyroidism.

Concepts: Genetics, Atrial fibrillation, Hypothyroidism, Hyperthyroidism, Thyroid, Thyroid hormone, Endocrine system, Triiodothyronine


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


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


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


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