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      ‘Syringe-in-the-Pocket’ – A New Approach to the Outpatient Thromboembolic Prophylaxis of Recurrent Atrial Fibrillation

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          Abstract

          Chronic anti-coagulation is not an attractive prospect to patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) after successful restoration of sinus rhythm. We researched the feasibility of self-screening for AF performed by instructed patients and, where necessary, prompt self-administration of an initial dose of low-molecular weight heparin (LMWH) prior to seeking medical attention. Materials and Methods: Persistent AF qualified to elective cardioversion was our focus. Two hundred and sixty-three consecutive patients (M/F: 179/84, mean age: 59.8 ± 8.6) were followed for a mean of 2.6 ± 1.7 years. All patients were trained to identify AF by palpation of the radial pulse and to self-inject LMWH in the case of arrhythmia recurrence. Two hundred and thirty-two patients who correctly recognized AF recurrence and those without episodes of AF during 4 weeks after cardioversion were equipped with nadroparine after acenocoumarol discontinuation. In 191 patients AF recurred during further observation, 172 of them correctly identified AF episodes, including 162 who performed LMWH injections at home. Seven patients who had performed LMWH injections presented with sinus rhythm on arrival to hospital, six patients had AF. Two out of 21 patients who failed to identify their AF episodes and one patient of those who correctly detected the AF recurrence, but failed to perform LMWH self-injection suffered from ischemic stroke (sensitivity 96.1%, specificity 60.4%). No side effects of domiciliary LMWH self-injection were identified. Conclusion: When properly trained, the majority of patients can accurately diagnose AF recurrence and self-inject an initial dose of LMWH, which makes it a feasible and potentially attractive anti-thromboembolic strategy.

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          Most cited references 7

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          A comparison of rate control and rhythm control in patients with atrial fibrillation.

          There are two approaches to the treatment of atrial fibrillation: one is cardioversion and treatment with antiarrhythmic drugs to maintain sinus rhythm, and the other is the use of rate-controlling drugs, allowing atrial fibrillation to persist. In both approaches, the use of anticoagulant drugs is recommended. We conducted a randomized, multicenter comparison of these two treatment strategies in patients with atrial fibrillation and a high risk of stroke or death. The primary end point was overall mortality. A total of 4060 patients (mean [+/-SD] age, 69.7+/-9.0 years) were enrolled in the study; 70.8 percent had a history of hypertension, and 38.2 percent had coronary artery disease. Of the 3311 patients with echocardiograms, the left atrium was enlarged in 64.7 percent and left ventricular function was depressed in 26.0 percent. There were 356 deaths among the patients assigned to rhythm-control therapy and 310 deaths among those assigned to rate-control therapy (mortality at five years, 23.8 percent and 21.3 percent, respectively; hazard ratio, 1.15 [95 percent confidence interval, 0.99 to 1.34]; P=0.08). More patients in the rhythm-control group than in the rate-control group were hospitalized, and there were more adverse drug effects in the rhythm-control group as well. In both groups, the majority of strokes occurred after warfarin had been stopped or when the international normalized ratio was subtherapeutic. Management of atrial fibrillation with the rhythm-control strategy offers no survival advantage over the rate-control strategy, and there are potential advantages, such as a lower risk of adverse drug effects, with the rate-control strategy. Anticoagulation should be continued in this group of high-risk patients. Copyright 2002 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            A comparison of rate control and rhythm control in patients with recurrent persistent atrial fibrillation.

            Maintenance of sinus rhythm is the main therapeutic goal in patients with atrial fibrillation. However, recurrences of atrial fibrillation and side effects of antiarrhythmic drugs offset the benefits of sinus rhythm. We hypothesized that ventricular rate control is not inferior to the maintenance of sinus rhythm for the treatment of atrial fibrillation. We randomly assigned 522 patients who had persistent atrial fibrillation after a previous electrical cardioversion to receive treatment aimed at rate control or rhythm control. Patients in the rate-control group received oral anticoagulant drugs and rate-slowing medication. Patients in the rhythm-control group underwent serial cardioversions and received antiarrhythmic drugs and oral anticoagulant drugs. The end point was a composite of death from cardiovascular causes, heart failure, thromboembolic complications, bleeding, implantation of a pacemaker, and severe adverse effects of drugs. After a mean (+/-SD) of 2.3+/-0.6 years, 39 percent of the 266 patients in the rhythm-control group had sinus rhythm, as compared with 10 percent of the 256 patients in the rate-control group. The primary end point occurred in 44 patients (17.2 percent) in the rate-control group and in 60 (22.6 percent) in the rhythm-control group. The 90 percent (two-sided) upper boundary of the absolute difference in the primary end point was 0.4 percent (the prespecified criterion for noninferiority was 10 percent or less). The distribution of the various components of the primary end point was similar in the rate-control and rhythm-control groups. Rate control is not inferior to rhythm control for the prevention of death and morbidity from cardiovascular causes and may be appropriate therapy in patients with a recurrence of persistent atrial fibrillation after electrical cardioversion. Copyright 2002 Massachusetts Medical Society
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              Rate control vs rhythm control in patients with nonvalvular persistent atrial fibrillation: the results of the Polish How to Treat Chronic Atrial Fibrillation (HOT CAFE) Study.

              The relative risks and benefits of strategies of rate control vs rhythm control in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) remain to be fully explored. The How to Treat Chronic Atrial Fibrillation (HOT CAFE) Polish trial was designed to evaluate in a randomized, multicenter, and prospective manner the feasibility and long-term outcomes of rate control vs rhythm control strategies in patients with persistent AF. Our study population comprised 205 patients (134 men and 71 women; mean [+/- SD] age, 60.8 +/- 11.2 years) with a mean AF duration of 273.7 +/- 112.4 days. The mean observation period was 1.7 +/- 0.4 years. One hundred one patients were randomly assigned to the rate control group and received rate-slowing therapy guided by repeated 24-h Holter monitoring. Direct current cardioversion and atrioventricular junctional ablation with pacemaker placement were alternative nonpharmacologic strategies for patients with tachycardia that was resistant to medical therapy. One hundred four patients were randomized to sinus rhythm restoration and maintenance using serial cardioversion supported by a predefined stepwise antiarrhythmic drug regimen (ie, disopyramide, propafenone, sotalol, and amiodarone). In both groups, thromboembolic prophylaxis followed current guidelines. At the end of follow-up, 63.5% of patients in the rhythm control arm remained in sinus rhythm. No significant differences in the composite end point (ie, all-cause mortality, number of thromboembolic events, or major bleeding) were found between the rate control group and the rhythm control group (odds ratio, 1.98; 95% confidence interval, 0.28 to 22.3; p > 0.71). The incidence of hospital admissions was much lower in the rate control arm (12% vs 74%, respectively; p < 0.001). New York Heart Association functional class improved in both study groups, while mean exercise tolerance, as measured by the maximal treadmill workload, improved only in the rhythm control group (5.2 +/- 5.1 vs 7.6 +/- 3.3 metabolic equivalents, respectively; p < 0.001). The rhythm control strategy led to an increased mean left ventricular fractional shortening (29 +/- 7% vs 31 +/- 7%, respectively; p < 0.01). One episode of pulmonary embolism occurred in the rate control group despite oral anticoagulation therapy, while three patients in the rhythm control arm of the study experienced ischemic strokes (not significant). The Polish HOT CAFE study revealed no significant differences in major end points between the rate control group and the rhythm control group.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                CRD
                Cardiology
                10.1159/issn.0008-6312
                Cardiology
                S. Karger AG
                0008-6312
                1421-9751
                2007
                May 2007
                02 February 2007
                : 107
                : 4
                : 370-372
                Affiliations
                aDepartment of Cardiology, Medical University of Warsaw, and bDepartment of Chest Medicine, National Institute of Tuberculosis and Chest Diseases, Warsaw, Poland
                Article
                99053 Cardiology 2007;107:370–372
                10.1159/000099053
                17283428
                © 2007 S. Karger AG, Basel

                Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in government regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug. Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.

                Page count
                Tables: 1, References: 10, Pages: 3
                Categories
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