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Battle of oral anticoagulants in the field of atrial fibrillation scrutinized from a clinical practice (the real world) perspective

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      Abstract

      Warfarin has a long history of benefit and has become the gold standard medication for the prevention of ischemic stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Nevertheless, it is far from perfect and there is no doubt that new drugs must be found to replace warfarin. The new oral anticoagulants that are on the market or awaiting approval or under research offer some benefits but not enough to replace warfarin until results of additional studies can show an adequate balance between effectiveness/safety and cost/benefit. There are several issues concerning the new oral anticoagulants. It is essential that the effect of any anticoagulant can be measured in plasma. But to date, there is no test to assess the effect or therapeutic range for the new oral anticoagulants. There is no antidote to neutralize the action of the new drugs in cases of bleeding or when acute surgical intervention is necessary. Dabigatran requires dose adjustment in patients with moderate renal impairment and is contraindicated in patients with severe renal failure. Rivaroxaban should be used with caution in patients with severe renal impairment. Apixaban excretion is also partly dependent on renal function, although the impact of renal insufficiency has not yet been determined. How anticoagulant bridging can be done before surgery has not yet been established. In conclusion, although thousands of patients have been treated in phase III studies, additional data are necessary before conclusions can be drawn on the potential for these new anticoagulant drugs to replace warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation.

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      Dabigatran versus warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation.

      Warfarin reduces the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation but increases the risk of hemorrhage and is difficult to use. Dabigatran is a new oral direct thrombin inhibitor. In this noninferiority trial, we randomly assigned 18,113 patients who had atrial fibrillation and a risk of stroke to receive, in a blinded fashion, fixed doses of dabigatran--110 mg or 150 mg twice daily--or, in an unblinded fashion, adjusted-dose warfarin. The median duration of the follow-up period was 2.0 years. The primary outcome was stroke or systemic embolism. Rates of the primary outcome were 1.69% per year in the warfarin group, as compared with 1.53% per year in the group that received 110 mg of dabigatran (relative risk with dabigatran, 0.91; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.74 to 1.11; P<0.001 for noninferiority) and 1.11% per year in the group that received 150 mg of dabigatran (relative risk, 0.66; 95% CI, 0.53 to 0.82; P<0.001 for superiority). The rate of major bleeding was 3.36% per year in the warfarin group, as compared with 2.71% per year in the group receiving 110 mg of dabigatran (P=0.003) and 3.11% per year in the group receiving 150 mg of dabigatran (P=0.31). The rate of hemorrhagic stroke was 0.38% per year in the warfarin group, as compared with 0.12% per year with 110 mg of dabigatran (P<0.001) and 0.10% per year with 150 mg of dabigatran (P<0.001). The mortality rate was 4.13% per year in the warfarin group, as compared with 3.75% per year with 110 mg of dabigatran (P=0.13) and 3.64% per year with 150 mg of dabigatran (P=0.051). In patients with atrial fibrillation, dabigatran given at a dose of 110 mg was associated with rates of stroke and systemic embolism that were similar to those associated with warfarin, as well as lower rates of major hemorrhage. Dabigatran administered at a dose of 150 mg, as compared with warfarin, was associated with lower rates of stroke and systemic embolism but similar rates of major hemorrhage. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00262600.) 2009 Massachusetts Medical Society
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        Meta-analysis: antithrombotic therapy to prevent stroke in patients who have nonvalvular atrial fibrillation.

        Atrial fibrillation is a strong independent risk factor for stroke. To characterize the efficacy and safety of antithrombotic agents for stroke prevention in patients who have atrial fibrillation, adding 13 recent randomized trials to a previous meta-analysis. Randomized trials identified by using the Cochrane Stroke Group search strategy, 1966 to March 2007, unrestricted by language. All published randomized trials with a mean follow-up of 3 months or longer that tested antithrombotic agents in patients who have nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. Two coauthors independently extracted information regarding interventions; participants; and occurrences of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke, major extracranial bleeding, and death. Twenty-nine trials included 28,044 participants (mean age, 71 years; mean follow-up, 1.5 years). Compared with the control, adjusted-dose warfarin (6 trials, 2900 participants) and antiplatelet agents (8 trials, 4876 participants) reduced stroke by 64% (95% CI, 49% to 74%) and 22% (CI, 6% to 35%), respectively. Adjusted-dose warfarin was substantially more efficacious than antiplatelet therapy (relative risk reduction, 39% [CI, 22% to 52%]) (12 trials, 12 963 participants). Other randomized comparisons were inconclusive. Absolute increases in major extracranial hemorrhage were small (< or =0.3% per year) on the basis of meta-analysis. Methodological features and quality varied substantially and often were incompletely reported. Adjusted-dose warfarin and antiplatelet agents reduce stroke by approximately 60% and by approximately 20%, respectively, in patients who have atrial fibrillation. Warfarin is substantially more efficacious (by approximately 40%) than antiplatelet therapy. Absolute increases in major extracranial hemorrhage associated with antithrombotic therapy in participants from the trials included in this meta-analysis were less than the absolute reductions in stroke. Judicious use of antithrombotic therapy importantly reduces stroke for most patients who have atrial fibrillation.
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          Prevalence of diagnosed atrial fibrillation in adults: national implications for rhythm management and stroke prevention: the AnTicoagulation and Risk Factors in Atrial Fibrillation (ATRIA) Study.

          Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia in elderly persons and a potent risk factor for stroke. However, recent prevalence and projected future numbers of persons with atrial fibrillation are not well described. To estimate prevalence of atrial fibrillation and US national projections of the numbers of persons with atrial fibrillation through the year 2050. Cross-sectional study of adults aged 20 years or older who were enrolled in a large health maintenance organization in California and who had atrial fibrillation diagnosed between July 1, 1996, and December 31, 1997. Prevalence of atrial fibrillation in the study population of 1.89 million; projected number of persons in the United States with atrial fibrillation between 1995-2050. A total of 17 974 adults with diagnosed atrial fibrillation were identified during the study period; 45% were aged 75 years or older. The prevalence of atrial fibrillation was 0.95% (95% confidence interval, 0.94%-0.96%). Atrial fibrillation was more common in men than in women (1.1% vs 0.8%; P<.001). Prevalence increased from 0.1% among adults younger than 55 years to 9.0% in persons aged 80 years or older. Among persons aged 50 years or older, prevalence of atrial fibrillation was higher in whites than in blacks (2.2% vs 1.5%; P<.001). We estimate approximately 2.3 million US adults currently have atrial fibrillation. We project that this will increase to more than 5.6 million (lower bound, 5.0; upper bound, 6.3) by the year 2050, with more than 50% of affected individuals aged 80 years or older. Our study confirms that atrial fibrillation is common among older adults and provides a contemporary basis for estimates of prevalence in the United States. The number of patients with atrial fibrillation is likely to increase 2.5-fold during the next 50 years, reflecting the growing proportion of elderly individuals. Coordinated efforts are needed to face the increasing challenge of optimal stroke prevention and rhythm management in patients with atrial fibrillation.
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            [1 ]Centro de Trombosis de Buenos Aires. Viamonte 2008, 1056 Buenos Aires, Argentina
            [2 ]Hospital Italiano de La Plata, Area de Hematología, Sección Hemostasia y Trombosis, 1900 La Plata, Pcia. de Buenos Aires, Argentina
            Contributors
            Journal
            Thromb J
            Thrombosis Journal
            BioMed Central
            1477-9560
            2011
            27 July 2011
            : 9
            : 12
            3161913
            1477-9560-9-12
            21794130
            10.1186/1477-9560-9-12
            Copyright ©2011 Altman and Vidal; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

            This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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