March 18, 2015
New Guidelines Significantly Increase Anticoagulant
Use with AFib

Durham, NC—New guidelines on the use of anticoagulants in treatment of atrial fibrillation would increase the percentage of patients overall receiving the drugs by 19%, from 72% to 91%.

The percentage increase would be even greater for women with AFib, from 77% to 98%, according to the study published recently in JAMA Internal Medicine.

New guidelines were issued last year by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and Heart Rhythm Society. Among the notable changes, according to lead author Emily O’Brien, PhD, of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, is that female sex now is considered a contributing risk factor for stroke among AFib patients.

Background information in the article notes that AFib affects about 2.7 million patients in the United States.

For the study, DCRI researchers reviewed data from the ORBIT registry, which included 10,132 AFib patients from 176 sites across the country. Patients’ age, gender, and other risk factors such as prior congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, diabetes, and prior stroke were analyzed to show how the broader guidelines would affect the number of patients recommended for drug therapy.

With new recommendations also lowering the age at which patients are considered at risk for stroke from 75 to 65, nearly 99% of patients with AFib over age 65 in the study population could be recommended for blood thinners, as compared with roughly 80% under previous guidelines.

“The full adoption of the guidelines could reclassify nearly 1 million people with AFib who previously weren’t recommended for treatment with blood thinners,” O'Brien said. “What we don't know yet is the extent to which doctors in community practice will incorporate the guidelines into their clinical routines, and what that will mean for the long-term outcomes for those patients. That will be the next step for our study.”

U.S. Pharmacist Social Connect