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Ann Transl Med. 2019 Sep;7(17):407. doi: 10.21037/atm.2019.07.10.

Post-operative atrial fibrillation: should we anticoagulate?

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Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, USA.
Department of Medicine, St Elizabeth's Medical Center/Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA.
Department of Internal Medicine-Pediatrics, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, USA.


The prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) is estimated to be 12 million by the year 2030. A subset of those patients fall into the category of post-operative atrial fibrillation (POAF) and either develop POAF after cardiac procedures [coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and valvular procedures] or non-cardiac procedures. With the rise in surgical procedures, POAF represents a significant economic burden. POAF usually converts to sinus rhythm on its own, prompting questions about whether there is a need to treat it and if there is a need for anticoagulation. This review discusses risk factors, pathophysiology, complications of POAF, and mechanisms of risk stratifying patients to determine when to anticoagulate.


Atrial fibrillation (AF); anticoagulation; arrhythmia; post-operative

Conflict of interest statement

Conflicts of Interest: The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

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