BACKGROUND: Current standard of care for patients with recent-onset atrial fibrillation (AF) in the emergency department aims at urgent restoration of sinus rhythm, although paroxysmal AF is a condition that resolves spontaneously within 24 hours in more than 70% of the cases. A wait-and-see approach with rate-control medication only and when needed cardioversion within 48 hours of onset of symptoms is hypothesized to be noninferior, safe, and cost-effective as compared with current standard of care and to lead to a higher quality of life.
DESIGN: The ACWAS trial (NCT02248753) is an investigator-initiated, randomized, controlled, 2-arm noninferiority trial that compares a wait-and-see approach to the standard of care. Consenting adults with recent-onset symptomatic AF in the emergency department without urgent need for cardioversion are eligible for participation. A total of 437 patients will be randomized to either standard care (pharmacologic or electrical cardioversion) or the wait-and-see approach, consisting of symptom reduction through rate control medication until spontaneous conversion is achieved, with the possibility of cardioversion within 48 hours after onset of symptoms. Primary end point is the presence of sinus rhythm on 12-lead electrocardiogram at 4 weeks; main secondary outcomes are adverse events, total medical and societal costs, quality of life, and cost-effectiveness for 1 year.
CONCLUSIONS: The ACWAS trial aims at providing evidence for the use of a wait-and-see approach for patients with recent-onset symptomatic AF in the emergency department.