Data supporting the safety of cardioversion (CV) of atrial fibrillation (AF) without anticoagulation in patients with AF duration <48 h are scarce. Observational studies suggest that the risk of stroke in these patients is very low when the definite duration of the AF episode is of <48 h and the clinical risk profile as estimated through the CHA2DS2VASc score is low (a score of 0 for men and 1 for women). As the recent 2020 European Society of Cardiology (ESC) guidelines indication for this clinical scenario is based mainly on consensus, we sent out a survey to assess the current clinical practice on anticoagulation prior to and post-CV in patients with AF <24-48 h duration and low stroke risk across centres in Europe. Of the 136 respondents, half were affiliated to university hospitals (68/136; 50%). Non-university hospitals (50/136; 36%) and private hospitals (2/136; 1.4%) accounted over a third of respondents. The main findings of our survey were (i) heterogeneity in the anticoagulation management both before and post-CV in low stroke-risk patients with AF <48 h, (ii) higher utilization of periprocedural low-molecular-weight heparin than of non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulant, (iii) higher utilization of pre-CV transoesophageal echocardiography for electrical CV than for pharmacological CV regardless of the duration of AF, (iv) high adherence to a 4-week post-CV oral anticoagulant (OAC) therapy, mainly for electrical CV, and finally, (v) perceived higher acceptance of lack of post-CV OAC therapy in patients with <24 h than 24-48 h episode duration. The results obtained in this survey highlight the need for more research providing definitive clarification on the safety of CV without anticoagulation in patients with short duration AF.
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