Published: 3 February 2021
Author(s): Michael Ke Wang, James Douketis
Issue: April 2021
Section: Commentary

Postoperative atrial fibrillation (POAF), defined as the occurrence of new-onset AF in the perioperative setting, is a common complication occurring in up to 3% of patients undergoing non-cardiothoracic procedures and in 30-50% of patients undergoing cardiothoracic procedures.[1] While a subset of patients with POAF will subsequently develop cardiorespiratory symptoms or hemodynamic instability,[2] most episodes of POAF are brief, self-limited, and asymptomatic. There are two key questions relating to POAF that remain unanswered: (i) to what extent is POAF associated with long-term clinical consequences, primarily stroke; and (ii) does anticoagulation provide therapeutic benefit to mitigate such risk?

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