Use of NOACs Versus Vitamin K Antagonist in Atrial Fibrillation Catheter Ablation: An Updated Meta-analysis With Subgroup Analysis

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BACKGROUND: Current guidelines give class I recommendations for uninterrupted use of dabigatran rivaroxaban as an alternative to vitamin K antagonist (VKA) in patients of atrial fibrillation (AF) who are undergoing catheter ablation. The recent randomized controlled trials have shown similar efficacy of novel oral anticoagulants when compared to VKA in these patients. We sought to perform a meta-analysis with a focus on subgroup analysis of novel oral anticoagulants. METHODS: We searched PubMed, Clinical trials registry and the Cochrane Center Register of Controlled Trials were searched through August 2020. Six RCTs studies (n = 2260) comparing the use of NOACs versus VKA in patients with AF undergoing catheter ablation were included. The odds ratio (OR) with 95% confidence interval was computed and P < 0.05 was considered as a level of significance. Major adverse cardiac events (MACE) were considered as a primary endpoint. RESULTS: Our results showed a significant difference in MACE between NOACs and VKA [OR 0.57 (0.37-0.88); P = 0.01] and in major bleeding events [OR 0.55 (0.35-0.86); P = 0.009], which is mainly derived from the use of dabigatran. No significant difference in MACE or major bleeding events was found on the subgroup analysis of rivaroxaban and apixaban over VKA therapy. CONCLUSION: Uninterrupted use of NOACs is safe and effective alternative for the prevention of cerebral thromboembolism and reducing the risk of major bleeding in patients undergoing catheter ablation of AF. However, the individual subgroup analysis showed that only dabigatran is superior to VKA in terms of reducing MACE through a reduction in major bleeding. The rivaroxaban, apixaban and edoxaban are non-inferior to VKA therapy based on these results. Further studies are needed to generalize these recommendations in morbidly obese patients.