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A clinician’s perspective: novel oral anticoagulants to reduce the risk of stroke in nonvalvular atrial fibrillation – full speed ahead or proceed with caution?

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      Abstract

      Over the past few years, three novel oral anticoagulants, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban, have been approved in the USA and Europe to reduce the risk of stroke or systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, and the results of a Phase III trial for a fourth novel oral anticoagulant, edoxaban, have recently been published. The aim of this review is to examine this indication from a clinician’s perspective, highlighting efficacy and safety results from the major trials with these novel oral agents. Clinical issues regarding bleeding, monitoring, and reversal are discussed, along with requirements to consider when interrupting treatment with a novel oral anticoagulant for the purpose of transitioning to another anticoagulant and prior to cardioversion, ablation, percutaneous coronary intervention, or emergency surgery. The cost-effectiveness of each of the approved novel oral anticoagulants is reviewed, and the author provides recommendations for selecting appropriate patients for these agents.

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      Most cited references 87

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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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        Rivaroxaban versus warfarin in nonvalvular atrial fibrillation.

        The use of warfarin reduces the rate of ischemic stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation but requires frequent monitoring and dose adjustment. Rivaroxaban, an oral factor Xa inhibitor, may provide more consistent and predictable anticoagulation than warfarin. In a double-blind trial, we randomly assigned 14,264 patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation who were at increased risk for stroke to receive either rivaroxaban (at a daily dose of 20 mg) or dose-adjusted warfarin. The per-protocol, as-treated primary analysis was designed to determine whether rivaroxaban was noninferior to warfarin for the primary end point of stroke or systemic embolism. In the primary analysis, the primary end point occurred in 188 patients in the rivaroxaban group (1.7% per year) and in 241 in the warfarin group (2.2% per year) (hazard ratio in the rivaroxaban group, 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.66 to 0.96; P<0.001 for noninferiority). In the intention-to-treat analysis, the primary end point occurred in 269 patients in the rivaroxaban group (2.1% per year) and in 306 patients in the warfarin group (2.4% per year) (hazard ratio, 0.88; 95% CI, 0.74 to 1.03; P<0.001 for noninferiority; P=0.12 for superiority). Major and nonmajor clinically relevant bleeding occurred in 1475 patients in the rivaroxaban group (14.9% per year) and in 1449 in the warfarin group (14.5% per year) (hazard ratio, 1.03; 95% CI, 0.96 to 1.11; P=0.44), with significant reductions in intracranial hemorrhage (0.5% vs. 0.7%, P=0.02) and fatal bleeding (0.2% vs. 0.5%, P=0.003) in the rivaroxaban group. In patients with atrial fibrillation, rivaroxaban was noninferior to warfarin for the prevention of stroke or systemic embolism. There was no significant between-group difference in the risk of major bleeding, although intracranial and fatal bleeding occurred less frequently in the rivaroxaban group. (Funded by Johnson & Johnson and Bayer; ROCKET AF ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00403767.).
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          Apixaban versus warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation.

          Vitamin K antagonists are highly effective in preventing stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation but have several limitations. Apixaban is a novel oral direct factor Xa inhibitor that has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke in a similar population in comparison with aspirin. In this randomized, double-blind trial, we compared apixaban (at a dose of 5 mg twice daily) with warfarin (target international normalized ratio, 2.0 to 3.0) in 18,201 patients with atrial fibrillation and at least one additional risk factor for stroke. The primary outcome was ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke or systemic embolism. The trial was designed to test for noninferiority, with key secondary objectives of testing for superiority with respect to the primary outcome and to the rates of major bleeding and death from any cause. The median duration of follow-up was 1.8 years. The rate of the primary outcome was 1.27% per year in the apixaban group, as compared with 1.60% per year in the warfarin group (hazard ratio with apixaban, 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.66 to 0.95; P<0.001 for noninferiority; P=0.01 for superiority). The rate of major bleeding was 2.13% per year in the apixaban group, as compared with 3.09% per year in the warfarin group (hazard ratio, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.60 to 0.80; P<0.001), and the rates of death from any cause were 3.52% and 3.94%, respectively (hazard ratio, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.80 to 0.99; P=0.047). The rate of hemorrhagic stroke was 0.24% per year in the apixaban group, as compared with 0.47% per year in the warfarin group (hazard ratio, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.35 to 0.75; P<0.001), and the rate of ischemic or uncertain type of stroke was 0.97% per year in the apixaban group and 1.05% per year in the warfarin group (hazard ratio, 0.92; 95% CI, 0.74 to 1.13; P=0.42). In patients with atrial fibrillation, apixaban was superior to warfarin in preventing stroke or systemic embolism, caused less bleeding, and resulted in lower mortality. (Funded by Bristol-Myers Squibb and Pfizer; ARISTOTLE ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00412984.).
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            Author and article information

            Affiliations
            Division of Cardiology, University of Washington Medical Center, Seattle, WA, USA
            Author notes
            Correspondence: Eugene Yang, Division of Cardiology, University of Washington Medical Center, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Box 356005, Seattle, WA 98195, USA, Tel +1 206 598 6819, Fax +1 206 598 0445, Email eyang01@ 123456uw.edu
            Journal
            Vasc Health Risk Manag
            Vasc Health Risk Manag
            Vascular Health and Risk Management
            Vascular Health and Risk Management
            Dove Medical Press
            1176-6344
            1178-2048
            2014
            21 August 2014
            : 10
            : 507-522
            4149394
            10.2147/VHRM.S68117
            vhrm-10-507
            © 2014 Yang. This work is published by Dove Medical Press Limited, and licensed under Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License

            The full terms of the License are available at http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.

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