Left atrial thrombus despite continuous direct oral anticoagulant or warfarin therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation: insights into rates and timing of thrombus resolution
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Left atrial thrombus (LAT) may be detected by transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) or flutter (AFL) despite continuous anticoagulation therapy. We sought to examine the rates and timing of LAT resolution in response to changes in anticoagulation regimen.
A retrospective study of 1517 consecutive patients on ≥ 4 weeks continuous oral anticoagulation (OAC) undergoing TEE prior to either direct current cardioversion or catheter ablation for AF or AFL was performed. Patients who had LAT on index TEE imaging and had follow-up TEEs were analyzed.
Despite ≥ 4 weeks of continuous anticoagulation therapy, 63 (4.2%) patients had LAT. Forty-four patients (median age 67 [IQR 58, 74]; 33 [75%] male; 25 [57%] on direct oral anticoagulant [DOAC]) had follow-up TEEs performed. Upon detection of LAT on index TEE, 8 patients switched from warfarin to a DOAC, 21 patients switched from a DOAC to warfarin or another DOAC, and 15 patients remained on the same OAC. Over median 4.2 months (IQR 2.9, 6.6), LAT resolution was seen in 25 (57%) patients. Of the 25 patients who had LAT resolution, 7 (28%) required TEE imaging > 6 months after index TEE to show clearance of thrombus. Rates of LAT resolution were similar between patients who had alterations in OAC and those who did not (52 vs. 60%; P = 0.601).
After initial detection of left atrial thrombus despite uninterrupted anticoagulation for atrial fibrillation or flutter, > 40% patients have persistent clot despite additional extended anticoagulation.
KeywordsOral anticoagulants Persistent left atrial thrombus Atrial fibrillation Atrial flutter Catheter ablation Direct current cardioversion
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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