Atrial high-rate episodes and stroke prevention

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Abstract

While the benefit of oral anticoagulants (OACs) for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) is well established, it is not known whether oral anticoagulation is indicated in patients with atrial high-rate episodes (AHRE) recorded on a cardiac implantable electronic device, sometimes also called subclinical AF, and lasting for at least 6 min in the absence of clinically diagnosed AF. Clinical evidence has shown that short episodes of rapid atrial tachycarrhythmias are often detected in patients presenting with stroke and transient ischaemic attack. Patients with AHRE have a higher likelihood of suffering from subsequent strokes, but their stroke rate seems lower than in patients with diagnosed AF, and not all AHRE episodes correspond to AF. The prognostic and pathological significance of AHRE is not yet fully understood. Clinical trials of OAC therapy are being conducted to determine whether therapeutic intervention would be beneficial to patients experiencing AHRE in terms of reducing the risk of stroke.

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