Author(s): Singer DE, Singer DE, Albers GW, Dalen JE, Fang MC, Go AS,
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Abstract This chapter about antithrombotic therapy in atrial fibrillation (AF) is part of the American College of Chest Physicians Evidence-Based Guidelines Clinical Practice Guidelines (8th Edition). Grade 1 recommendations indicate that most patients would make the same choice and Grade 2 suggests that individual patient's values may lead to different choices (for a full understanding of the grading see Guyatt et al, CHEST 2008; 133[suppl]:123S-131S). Among the key recommendations in this chapter are the following (all vitamin K antagonist [VKA] recommendations have a target international normalized ratio [INR] of 2.5; range 2.0-3.0, unless otherwise noted). In patients with AF, including those with paroxysmal AF, who have had a prior ischemic stroke, transient ischemic attack (TIA), or systemic embolism, we recommend long-term anticoagulation with an oral VKA, such as warfarin, because of the high risk of future ischemic stroke faced by this set of patients (Grade 1A). In patients with AF, including those with paroxysmal AF, who have two or more of the risk factors for future ischemic stroke listed immediately below, we recommend long-term anticoagulation with an oral VKA (Grade 1A). Two or more of the following risk factors apply: age >75 years, history of hypertension, diabetes mellitus, moderately or severely impaired left ventricular systolic function and/or heart failure. In patients with AF, including those with paroxysmal AF, with only one of the risk factors listed immediately above, we recommend long-term antithrombotic therapy (Grade 1A), either as anticoagulation with an oral VKA, such as warfarin (Grade 1A), or as aspirin, at a dose of 75-325 mg/d (Grade 1B). In these patients at intermediate risk of ischemic stroke we suggest a VKA rather than aspirin (Grade 2A). In patients with AF, including those with paroxysmal AF, age < or =75 years and with none of the other risk factors listed above, we recommend long-term aspirin therapy at a dose of 75-325 mg/d (Grade 1B), because of their low risk of ischemic stroke. For patients with atrial flutter, we recommend that antithrombotic therapy decisions follow the same risk-based recommendations as for AF (Grade 1C). For patients with AF and mitral stenosis, we recommend long-term anticoagulation with an oral VKA (Grade 1B). For patients with AF and prosthetic heart valves we recommend long-term anticoagulation with an oral VKA at an intensity appropriate for the specific type of prosthesis (Grade 1B). See CHEST 2008; 133(suppl):593S-629S. For patients with AF of > or =48 h or of unknown duration for whom pharmacologic or electrical cardioversion is planned, we recommend anticoagulation with an oral VKA, such as warfarin, for 3 weeks before elective cardioversion and for at least 4 weeks after sinus rhythm has been maintained (Grade 1C). For patients with AF of > or = 48 h or of unknown duration undergoing pharmacological or electrical cardioversion, we also recommend either immediate anticoagulation with unfractionated IV heparin, or low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH), or at least 5 days of warfarin by the time of cardioversion (achieving an INR of 2.0-3.0) as well as a screening multiplane transesophageal echocardiography (TEE). If no thrombus is seen, cardioversion is successful, and sinus rhythm is maintained, we recommend anticoagulation for at least 4 weeks. If a thrombus is seen on TEE, then cardioversion should be postponed and anticoagulation should be continued indefinitely. We recommend obtaining a repeat TEE before attempting later cardioversion (Grade 1B addressing the equivalence of TEE-guided vs non-TEE-guided cardioversion). For patients with AF of known duration <48 h, we suggest cardioversion without prolonged anticoagulation (Grade 2C). However, in patients without contraindications to anticoagulation, we suggest beginning IV heparin or LMWH at presentation (Grade 2C).
This article was published in Chest
and referenced in Journal of Diabetic Complications & Medicine