Heparin dosing in uninterrupted anticoagulation with dabigatran vs. warfarin in atrial fibrillation ablation: RE-CIRCUIT study

Europace. 2019 Jun 1;21(6):879-885. doi: 10.1093/europace/euz057.


Aims: To describe heparin dosing requirements in patients who underwent catheter ablation of atrial fibrillation with uninterrupted anticoagulation using dabigatran etexilate (dabigatran) or warfarin to attain therapeutic activated clotting time (ACT) in the RE-CIRCUIT® study. The RE-CIRCUIT study showed significantly fewer major bleeding events in the dabigatran vs. warfarin treatment group. Unfractionated heparin was administered during the procedure to maintain ACT >300 s.

Methods and results: Patients were randomly assigned to dabigatran 150 mg bid or international normalized ratio-adjusted warfarin. Ablation was performed with uninterrupted anticoagulation and continued for 8 weeks after the procedure. Heparin was administered after placement of femoral sheaths before or immediately after transseptal puncture. Ablation was performed in 635 patients (dabigatran, 317; warfarin, 318); data were available from 396 patients administered heparin (dabigatran, 191; warfarin, 205). Most frequent time window from last dose of study drug to septal puncture was 0 to <4 h in the dabigatran (41.3%) and 16 to <24 h in the warfarin arms (44.7%). Overall mean (standard deviation) heparin dose was similar between the dabigatran and warfarin groups [12 402 (10 721) vs. 11 910 (8359) IU, respectively]. Heparin dosing requirement to reach therapeutic ACT was lowest when time from last dose of dabigatran to septal puncture was 0 to <4 h.

Conclusion: Patients treated with dabigatran required a similar amount of unfractionated heparin as those treated with warfarin to achieve an ACT of >300 s during ablation. More heparin units were required when the time from the last dose of dabigatran to septal puncture increased.

Keywords: Anticoagulation; Atrial fibrillation; Catheter ablation; Dabigatran; Heparin dosing; Warfarin.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage*
  • Antithrombins / administration & dosage*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / drug therapy*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / surgery*
  • Catheter Ablation
  • Dabigatran / administration & dosage*
  • Female
  • Heparin / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • International Normalized Ratio
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Warfarin / administration & dosage*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Antithrombins
  • Warfarin
  • Heparin
  • Dabigatran