Post-operative atrial fibrillation: should we anticoagulate?
The prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) is estimated to be 12 million by the year 2030. A subset of those patients fall into the category of post-operative atrial fibrillation (POAF) and either develop POAF after cardiac procedures [coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) and valvular procedures] or non-cardiac procedures. With the rise in surgical procedures, POAF represents a significant economic burden. POAF usually converts to sinus rhythm on its own, prompting questions about whether there is a need to treat it and if there is a need for anticoagulation. This review discusses risk factors, pathophysiology, complications of POAF, and mechanisms of risk stratifying patients to determine when to anticoagulate.