Aims: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cause of ischemic stroke. Recent data suggest that AF patients after successful ablation have the same risk for thromboembolic events (TE) as patients without AF. Despite current guideline recommendations it is still under debate if oral anticoagulation (OAC) can be safely discontinued after ablation. We analyzed follow-up (FU) after ablation of paroxysmal AF (PAF) in a high- (previous stroke; group 1) and a low-risk group (no previous stroke; group 2) based on data from the German Ablation Registry to reveal real-life prescription behavior.
Methods: Overall 29 centers in Germany participated by performing AF-ablation. Between April 2008 and April 2011, 83 patients in group 1 and 377 patients in group 2 with a first ablation of PAF were included in the registry.
Results: Mean CHA2DS2-VASc-Score was 4.2 ± 1.4 (group 1) vs. 1.6 ± 1.2 (group 2) (p < 0.0001). No peri-interventional TE was observed. Arrhythmia recurrence was seen in 47.4 vs. 48.4% (p = 0.79) during a median FU of 489 (453-782) days, resulting in a repeat procedure in 20.0 vs. 20.7% (p = 0.88), respectively. OAC was discontinued in 38.6% in group 1 vs. 66.3% in group 2 (p < 0.0001) during FU. TE during FU occurred more often in group 1 than in group 2 (4.3 vs. 0.3%, p < 0.05).
Conclusion: Even in patients with previous stroke, OAC was frequently discontinued during FU after PAF ablation in this observational study. However, TE occurred significantly more frequent in these high-risk patients. These data argue against OAC discontinuation after ablation in patients with previous stroke.