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Europace. 2018 Oct 1;20(10):1612-1620. doi: 10.1093/europace/euy133.

Uninterrupted direct oral anticoagulants vs. uninterrupted vitamin K antagonists during catheter ablation of non-valvular atrial fibrillation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.

Author information

Montefiore-Einstein Center for Heart and Vascular Care, Montefiore Medical Center, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 2814 Middletown Rd, Bronx, NY, USA.
Division of Cardiovascular Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, 2220 Pierce Avenue, Nashville, TN, USA.
Department of Cardiology, Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney, Darcy Rd, Westmead NSW, Australia.
The Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences, College of Medical and Dental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, UK.
Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center, Austin, TX, USA.



To assess the incremental benefit of uninterrupted direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) vs. uninterrupted vitamin K antagonists (VKA) for catheter ablation (CA) of non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) on three primary outcomes: major bleeding, thrombo-embolic events, and minor bleeding. A secondary outcome was post-procedural silent cerebral infarction (SCI) as detected by brain magnetic resonance imaging.

Methods and results:

A systematic review of Medline, Cochrane, and Embase was done to find all randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in which uninterrupted DOACs were compared against uninterrupted VKA for CA of NVAF. A fixed-effect model was used, with the exception of the analysis regarding major bleeding events (I2 > 25), for which a random effects model was used. The benefit of uninterrupted DOACs over VKA was analysed from four RCTs that enrolled a total of 1716 patients (male: 71.2%) with NVAF. Of these, 1100 patients (64.1%) had paroxysmal atrial fibrillation. No significant benefit was seen in major bleeding events [risk ratio (RR) 0.54, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.29-1.00; P = 0.05]. No significant differences were found in minor bleeding events (RR 1.11, 95% CI 0.82-1.52; P = 0.50), thrombo-embolic events (RR 0.74, 95% CI 0.26-2.11; P = 0.57), or post-procedural SCI (RR 1.06, 95% CI 0.74-1.53; P = 0.74).


An uninterrupted DOACs strategy for CA of NVAF appears to be as safe as uninterrupted VKA without a significantly increased risk of minor or major bleeding events. There was a trend favouring DOACs in terms of major bleeding. Given their ease of use, fewer drug interactions and a similar security and effectiveness profile, DOACs should be considered first line therapy in patients undergoing CA for NVAF.


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