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Catheter Ablation of Atrial Fibrillation in Patients at Low Thrombo-Embolic Risk: Efficacy and Safety of a Simplified Periprocedural Anticoagulation Strategy


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Address for correspondence: Mattias Duytschaever, M.D., Ph.D., Department of Cardiology, St.-Jan Hospital Bruges, Ruddershove 10, 8000 Bruges, Belgium. Fax: +32-50-452679; E-mail:

Aspirin and Low Molecular Weight Heparin in Patients Undergoing Catheter Ablation of AF


To prevent thrombo-embolic (TE) events during ablation of atrial fibrillation (AF), warfarin is recommended in all patients irrespective of baseline TE risk. We evaluated the efficacy and safety of a simplified periprocedural anticoagulation strategy of aspirin (ASA) and low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) in patients at low TE risk.


We collected data from 214 low TE risk patients (CHADS2 score ≤1 and no warfarin at baseline) undergoing pulmonary vein isolation. After discontinuation of ASA, periprocedural antithrombotic therapy consisted of therapeutic subcutaneous LMWH injections (nadroparin 1 mL/kg once daily) from 10 days before until 10 days after the procedure, followed by ASA in all patients. At the time of procedure, transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) was not performed on a routine basis. During the procedure, unfractionated heparin was administered to achieve an ACT between 350 and 400 seconds. Data on TE events (stroke or transient ischemic attack), cardiac tamponade/perforation, and major vascular access complications within 3 months after the procedure were collected.


Mean CHADS2 was 0.3 ± 0.5. TEE was performed in 3% of patients. No periprocedural TE events occurred. No cardiac tamponade/perforation was observed. Major vascular access complications occurred in 3 patients (1.4%). No permanent injury was observed (0%).


In selected low TE risk patients undergoing ablation for AF, a short period of periprocedural therapeutic anticoagulation with LMWH together with aspirin is an effective and safe strategy to prevent TE events. If confirmed in a randomized trial, this approach might simplify periprocedural antithrombotic management in ablation of selected AF patients.