Background: In atrial fibrillation (AF) patients, the effect of direct oral anticoagulant (DOACs) therapy on the incidence of left atrial appendage thrombus (LAT) remains poorly investigated. This study examined the prevalence and risk factors of LAT in AF patients on DOACs undergoing catheter ablation, and sought an anticoagulation strategy for LAT. Methods and Results: In 407 AF patients on DOACs, transesophageal echocardiography (TEE) was performed 1 day before ablation. If patients had LAT, initial DOACs were switched to dabigatran (300 mg) or warfarin based on their renal function; TEE was repeated after treatment for ≥4 weeks. LAT was detected in 18 patients (4.4%). The prevalence of persistent AF and low-dose treat-ment/inappropriate dose reduction of DOACs, CHADS2/CHA2DS2-VASc scores, serum N-terminal pro-brain natriuretic peptide levels, and LA dimension/LA volume index significantly increased in patients with LAT vs. those without LAT. AF rhythm on TEE and spontaneous echo contrast also increased in patients with LAT; LA appendage flow velocity decreased. In the multivariate analysis, persistent AF and inappropriately reduced DOAC dose were risk factors for LAT. On repeat TEE, LAT had disappeared in 13 of 16 patients treated with dabigatran and in 2 of 2 patients treated with warfarin. Conclusions: DOACs still carry a finite risk of LAT in AF patients. Inappropriately reduced DOAC dose should be avoided to minimize the thromboembolic risk. Regular-dose dabigatran may have therapeutic efficacy against LAT.
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