IMR Press / RCM / Volume 22 / Issue 3 / DOI: 10.31083/j.rcm2203074
Open Access Review
Atrial fibrillation and coronary artery disease: a review on the optimal use of oral anticoagulants
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1 Division of Cardiology, Department of Medical Sciences, University of Turin, “Città della Salute e della Scienza” Hospital, 10126 Turin, Italy
Academic Editor: Peter A. McCullough
Rev. Cardiovasc. Med. 2021, 22(3), 635–648;
Submitted: 26 May 2021 | Revised: 1 July 2021 | Accepted: 2 July 2021 | Published: 24 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Atrial fibrillation and ischemic heart disease)

Atrial fibrillation (AF) represents the most prevalent supraventricular arrhythmia in adults population and up to 15% of AF patients undergo percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for coronary artery disease (CAD) during their life. While oral anticoagulants (OACs) exert a protective effect in the setting of stroke prevention and systemic embolization in AF patients, patients undergoing PCI are recommended to receive dual antiplatelet therapy (DAPT) to reduce the risk of cardiovascular death, recurrent myocardial infarction and stent thrombosis. When these two scenarios coexist, as all antithrombotic regimens are burdened by an increase in bleeding risk, antithrombotic regimen and therapy duration must be cautiously tailored on individual patients’ characteristics after attentive assessment of ischemic and bleeding risks. Non-vitamin K oral anticoagulants (NOACs), directly inhibiting either thrombin or factor Xa of the coagulation cascade, have progressively replaced warfarin as first choice OACs in several scenarios; recently, randomized controlled trials have compared antithrombotic regimens including NOAC molecules vs vitamin K antagonists in AF patients undergoing PCI to explore the efficacy and safety of NOACs in this setting. These studies have provided a deeper understanding of antithrombotic therapy after PCI in AF patients and have been promptly implemented by the most recent guidelines on AF and CAD management. The aim of the present review was to summarize the current available literature on the perils and benefits of individual OAC molecules in AF patients with acute and/or chronic coronary syndromes in order to provide guidance on the optimal use of OACs in these complex scenarios.

Atrial fibrillation
Oral anticoagulation
Coronary artery disease
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