Introduction: Atrial fibrillation (AF) represents a cardiovascular syndrome which can lead to embolic stroke. Several AF clinical trials have shown a decrease risk of stroke with anticoagulation using warfarin. Currently, there are two approaches for anticoagulation in AF patients. For outpatients, warfarin is used with an INR goal 2.0–3.0. For inpatients requiring cardioversion, unfractionated heparin (UFH, IV) is used as a bridge to therapeutic warfarin. More recently, anticoagulation with a low molecular weight heparin, enoxaparin, has been reported to give a more predictable anticoagulant response than UFH in TEEguided cardioversion. The present study compares the markers of inflammation and thrombin generation in patients included in the ACUTE II study.

Methods: This was a randomized multicenter trial of 155 patients from 17 clinical sites, the anticoagulant activity of LMWH (enoxaparin, 1 mg/kg sc bid, Sanofi-Aventis, n=76) was compared to that of UFH (APTT 1.5 – 2.5 x control, n=79). Blood samples were drawn at enrollment (baseline), day 2 (peri cardioversion) and day 4 in both groups. Day 2 and day 4 samples were taken 3–4 hours after the injection of LMWH in patients in the LMWH group. Blood samples were evaluated for inflammation: C-reactive protein (CRP), CD 40 ligand (CD 40L), monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1) and anticoagulant effect: thrombin antithrombin complex (TAT) and prothrombin fragment (F 1.2).

Results: The APTT and anti-Xa levels indicated therapeutic anticoagulation was achieved (previously reported). In addition, both TAT and F1.2 levels were increased at baseline and were significantly decreased with LMWH (p<0.01) in comparison to UFH. The CRP, CD40L, MCP-1 were decreased after treatment in both groups of patients. These results suggest that AF patients treated with LMWH demonstrate a stronger anticoagulant effect as measured by a significant reduction in the markers of thrombin generation. Furthermore, anticoagulation with either UFH of LMWH results in a decrease in inflammation which was not different between groups.

Conclusion: In the ACUTE II trial, anticoagulation with LMWH in AF patients may be a better alternate than UFH during TEE-guided cardioversion due to a a stronger anticoagulant.

Author notes

Disclosure: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.