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Sepsis-driven atrial fibrillation and ischaemic stroke. Is there enough evidence to recommend anticoagulation?

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Hennebry, Eleanor 
Hennebry, James 
Thakur, Mrinal 
Warburton, Elizabeth A 


Sepsis can lead to cardiac arrhythmias, of which the most common is atrial fibrillation (AF). Sepsis is associated with up to a six-fold higher risk of developing AF, where it occurs most commonly in the first 3 days of hospital admission. In many patients, AF detected during sepsis is the first documented episode of AF, either as an unmasking of sub-clinical AF or as a newly developed arrhythmia. In the short term, sepsis that is complicated by AF leads to longer hospital stays and an increased risk of inpatient mortality. Sepsis-driven AF can also increase an individual's risk of inpatient stroke by nearly 3-fold, compared to sepsis patients without AF. In the long-term, it is estimated that up to 50% of patients have recurrent episodes of AF within 1-year of their episode of sepsis. The common perception that once the precipitating illness is treated or sinus rhythm is restored the risk of stroke is removed is incorrect. For clinicians, there is a paucity of evidence on how to reduce an individual's risk of stroke after developing AF during sepsis, including whether to start anticoagulation. This is pertinent when considering that more patients are surviving episodes of sepsis and are left with post-sepsis sequalae such as AF. This review provides a summary on the literature available surrounding sepsis-driven AF, focusing on AF recurrence and ischaemic stroke risk. Using this, pragmatic advice to clinicians on how to better detect and reduce an individual's stroke risk after developing AF during sepsis is discussed.



Anticoagulation, Atrial Fibrillation, Infection, Ischaemic Stroke, Sepsis, Stroke prevention, Anticoagulants, Atrial Fibrillation, Brain Ischemia, Humans, Ischemic Stroke, Risk Factors, Sepsis, Stroke

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Eur J Intern Med

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Elsevier BV
British Heart Foundation (None)
Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUH) (146281)