Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) are sometimes prescribed at off-label under-doses for patients who have undergone ablation for atrial fibrillation (AF). This practice may be an attempt to balance the risk of bleeding against that of stroke or AF recurrence. We examined outcomes of 1163 patients who continued use of a DOAC after ablation. The patients were enrolled in a large (3530 patients) multicenter registry in Japan. The study patients were classified as 749 (64.4%) appropriate standard-dose DOAC users, 216 (18.6%) off-label under-dose DOAC users, and 198 (17.0%) appropriate low-dose DOAC users. Age and CHA2DS2-VASc scores differed significantly between DOAC dosing regimens, with patients given an appropriate standard-dose being significantly younger (63.3 ± 9.4 versus 64.8 ± 9.5 versus 73.2 ± 6.8 years, P < 0.0001) and lower (2.1 ± 1.5 versus 2.4 ± 1.6 versus 3.4 ± 1.4, P < 0.0001) than those given an off-label under-dose or an appropriate low-dose. During the median 19.0-month follow-up period, the AF recurrence rate was similar between the appropriate standard-dose and off-label under-dose groups but relatively low in the appropriate low-dose group (42.5% versus 41.2% versus 35.4%, P = 0.08). Annualized rates of thromboembolic events, major bleeding, and death from any cause were 0.47%, 0.70%, and 0.23% in the off-label under-dose group, while those rates were 0.74%, 0.73%, and 0.65% in the appropriate standard-dose, and 1.58%, 2.12%, and 1.57% in the appropriate low-dose groups. In conclusion, the clinical adverse event rates for patients on an off-label under-dose DOAC regimen after ablation, predicated on careful patient evaluations, was not high as seen with that of patients on a standard DOAC dosing regimen.
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