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The use of vitamin K antagonists (VKAs), the cornerstone treatment for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation, is limited by the perceived risk of serious bleeding in Asia. Non-VKA oral anticoagulants (NOACs) are safer alternatives. Here, we evaluate performance differences of NOACs between Asians and non-Asians.
We compared efficacy and safety of NOACs between patients enrolled in Asian and non-Asian countries using aggregative data from phase III clinical trials. The odds ratios (ORs [95% confidence interval]) were calculated by a random effects model.
Comparing with VKAs, standard-dose NOACs reduced stroke or systemic embolism (OR=0.65 [0.52–0.83] versus 0.85 [0.77–0.93], P interaction= 0.045) more in Asians than in non-Asians and were safer in Asians than in non-Asians about major bleeding (OR=0.57 [0.44–0.74] versus 0.89 [0.76–1.04], P interaction=0.004), hemorrhagic stroke (OR=0.32 [0.19–0.52] versus 0.56 [0.44–0.70], P interaction=0.046) in particular, whereas gastrointestinal bleeding was significantly increased in non-Asians (OR=0.79 [0.48–1.32] versus 1.44 [1.12–1.85], P interaction=0.041). Generally, low-dose NOACs were safer than VKAs without heterogeneity in efficacy and safety between Asians and non-Asians, except for ischemic stroke, major, and gastrointestinal bleeding.