Background and purpose: As a result of contraindications (eg, frailty, cognitive impairment, comorbidities) or patient refusal, many patients with stroke and atrial fibrillation cannot be discharged on oral anticoagulant. Among them, the proportion of potential candidates for left atrial appendage closure (LAAC) and their 12-month outcome is not well known.
Methods: The prospective WATCH-AF registry (Warfarin Aspirin Ten-A Inhibitors and Cerebral Infarction and Hemorrhage and Atrial Fibrillation) enrolled consecutive patients admitted within 72 hours of an acute stroke associated with atrial fibrillation in 2 stroke centers. Scales to evaluate stroke severity, disability, functional independence, risk of fall, cognition, ischemic and hemorrhagic risk-stratification, and comorbidities were systematically collected at admission, discharge, 3, 12 months poststroke. The 2 main end points were death or dependency (modified Rankin Scale score >3) and recurrent stroke (brain infarction and brain hemorrhage).
Results: Among 400 enrolled patients (370 with brain infarction, 30 with brain hemorrhage), 31 died before discharge and 57 (14.3%) were possible European Heart Rhythm Association/European Society of Cardiology and American Heart Association/American College of Cardiology/Heart Rhythm Society candidates for LAAC. At 12 months, the rate of death or dependency was 17.9%, and the rate of stroke recurrence was 9.8% in the 274/400 (68.5%) patients discharged on a long-term oral anticoagulant strategy, as compared with 17.5% and 24.7%, respectively, in 57 patients candidate for LAAC. As compared with patients on a long-term oral anticoagulant strategy, there was a 2-fold increase in the risk of stroke recurrence in the group with an indication for LAAC (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.58 [95% CI, 1.40-4.76]; P=0.002).
Conclusions: Fourteen percent of patients with stroke associated with atrial fibrillation were potential candidates for LAAC. The 12-month stroke risk of these candidates was 3-fold the risk of anticoagulated patients.
Keywords: anticoagulants; atrial appendage; atrial fibrillation; dabigatran; hemorrhage.