Anticoagulation in Atrial Fibrillation Cardioversion: What Is Crucial to Take into Account

F. Luca*, S. Giubilato, S.A. Di Fusco, L. Piccioni*, C.M. Rao, A. Iorio, L. Cipolletta, E. D'Elia, S. Gelsomino, R. Rossini, F. Colivicchi, M.M. Gulizia

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Web of Science)

Abstract

The therapeutic dilemma between rhythm and rate control in the management of atrial fibrillation (AF) is still unresolved and electrical or pharmacological cardioversion (CV) frequently represents a useful strategy. The most recent guidelines recommend anticoagulation according to individual thromboembolic risk. Vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) have been routinely used to prevent thromboembolic events. Non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) represent a significant advance due to their more predictable therapeutic effect and more favorable hemorrhagic risk profile. In hemodynamically unstable patients, an emergency electrical cardioversion (ECV) must be performed. In this situation, intravenous heparin or low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) should be administered before CV. In patients with AF occurring within less than 48 h, synchronized direct ECV should be the elective procedure, as it restores sinus rhythm quicker and more successfully than pharmacological cardioversion (PCV) and is associated with shorter length of hospitalization. Patients with acute onset AF were traditionally considered at lower risk of thromboembolic events due to the shorter time for atrial thrombus formation. In patients with hemodynamic stability and AF for more than 48 h, an ECV should be planned after at least 3 weeks of anticoagulation therapy. Alternatively, transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) to rule out left atrial appendage thrombus (LAAT) should be performed, followed by ECV and anticoagulation for at least 4 weeks. Theoretically, the standardized use of TEE before CV allows a better stratification of thromboembolic risk, although data available to date are not univocal.
Original languageEnglish
Article number3212
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Volume10
Issue number15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • AF
  • ELECTIVE CARDIOVERSION
  • EMERGENCY-DEPARTMENT
  • OPEN-LABEL
  • ORAL ANTICOAGULANTS
  • RHYTHM-CONTROL
  • THROMBOEMBOLIC RISK
  • THROMBUS PRIOR
  • TRANSESOPHAGEAL ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY
  • WARFARIN
  • atrial fibrillation
  • electrical cardioversion
  • non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants
  • pharmacological cardioversion
  • STROKE

Cite this