Background Although controversial, several prior studies have suggested that oral anticoagulants (OACs) are underused in the US atrial fibrillation (AF) population. Appropriate use of OACs is essential because they significantly reduce the risk of stroke in those with AF. In the >2 million Americans with AF, OACs are recommended when the risk of stroke is moderate or high but not when the risk of stroke is low. To quantify trends and guideline adherence, we evaluated OAC use (either warfarin or dabigatran) in a 10-year period in patients with new AF in the Veterans Health Administration. Methods New AF was defined as at least 2 clinical encounters documenting AF within 120 days of each other and no previous AF diagnosis (N = 297,611). Congestive Heart Failure, Hypertension, Age > 75, Diabetes, and Stroke (CHADS2) scores were determined using age and diagnoses of hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, and stroke or transient ischemic attack during the 12 months before AF diagnosis. Receipt of an OAC within 90 days of a new diagnosis of AF was evaluated using VA pharmacy data. Results Overall, initiation of an OAC fell from 51.3% in 2002 to 43.1% in 2011. For patients with CHADS2 score of 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5-6, the proportions of patients prescribed an OAC showed a relative decrease of 26%, 23%, 14%, 12%, 9%, and 13%, respectively (P <.001). Clopidogrel use was stable at 10% of the AF population. Conclusions Among US veterans with new AF and additional risk factors for stroke, only about half receive OAC, and the proportion is declining.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine