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J Cardiovasc Med (Hagerstown). 2008 Jan;9(1):51-5. doi: 10.2459/JCM.0b013e32801462d4.

Role of anticoagulation therapy after pulmonary vein antrum isolation for atrial fibrillation treatment.

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Department of Cardiology, Umberto I Hospital, Mestre-Venice, Italy.



Atrial fibrillation (AF) increases the risk of atrioembolic stroke. However, the role of anticoagulation therapy (OAT) in preventing cerebrovascular accidents (CVA) after intracardiac echocardiography-guided pulmonary vein antrum isolation (ICE-PVAI) is still unclear. In the present study, we evaluated the incidence of CVA following the interruption of OAT 3 months after ICE-PVAI.


Between September 2002 and March 2004, 85 consecutive patients (72 men, mean age 62 +/- 7 years) underwent ICE-PVAI for symptomatic drug-refractory AF. Heart disease was present in 61 patients (72%) (left ventricular ejection fraction = 58 +/- 6%, LA diameter 44 +/- 6 mm). Eighty-five consecutive patients who underwent electrical cardioversion (EC) for AF, matched for age, sex and heart disease, served as a control group. After 3 months, OAT was stopped unless one of the following conditions was observed: (i) AF-recurrence; (ii) severe pulmonary vein stenosis; (iii) non-good atrial contractility on transesophageal echocardiography; or (iv) other indications for OAT.


In the study group, OAT was stopped after 3 months in 77 patients (90%) and no CVA occurred during the remaining follow-up (15 +/- 7 months). In the control group, 1 month after EC, OAT was stopped by the referring physician in 29 patients (34%). A stroke occurred in five patients (6%) (P = 0.09; mean P = 0.059) during follow-up. In two of these (2%), the stroke was fatal.


Stopping OAT 3 months after ICE-PVAI seems to be safe in patients without AF recurrences after the first 3 months following ablation. Further randomized-controlled studies are needed to confirm these preliminary data.

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