Nephrol Dial Transplant 2018 08;33(8):1304-1309
Department of Cardiology, Medical University, Bialystok, Poland.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia of high clinical importance, occurring in 2% of the general population and in 19-24% in patients with chronic kidney disease. It is a well-known risk factor for cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Kidney transplant recipients with a history of AF were associated with significantly higher rate of ischaemic strokes, graft failure and post-transplant mortality. AF occurs in over 7% of kidney transplant recipients in the first 3 years after transplantation and is associated with reduced graft and patient survival. The incidence of stroke in patients after kidney transplantation (KTx) is higher than the general population, but markedly lower than those on dialysis. Oral anticoagulation (OAC) therapy is recommended in AF patients at high risk of stroke. There are no randomized studies assessing OAC in patients after KTx and there are no specific recommendations and guidelines on therapeutic strategies in these patients. KTx recipients are a vulnerable population, exposed to variations in renal function, being at higher risk of bleeding and thrombotic complications, with possible interactions with immunosuppression. Surely, there is a place for novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) in this group of patients as long as the summary of product characteristics is followed, as they are a valuable anticoagulation therapy. On one hand, they are at least as effective as warfarin; on the other hand NOACs are safer, especially when it comes to intracranial haemorrhages. However, NOACs seem to be underused in this population as they are excreted via kidney, may interact with immunosuppressive therapy and physicians need more experience and confidence in their administration. Percutaneous left atrial appendage occlusion procedure may also be considered as an opportunity for this group of patients, in particular in the presence of contraindications to anticoagulation.