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Blood-thinning treatment may change for patients with atrial fibrillation

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Warfarin, an anticoagulation (blood-thinning) drug, may not be as beneficial to some patients with atrial fibrillation as thought, according to a new study in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

The drug is commonly prescribed to prevent blood-clotting in patients with atrial fibrillation, a type of abnormal heart rhythm. Mark Eckman, MD, a UC Health physician, professor of medicine and lead investigator of the study, says the discovery might change the way patients with the heart condition manage stroke risk.

"When considering patient-specific decision-making for patients with atrial fibrillation, patients at lower risk of stroke and at high risk of bleeding should not receive oral anticoagulant therapy; patients at higher risk of stroke and at low risk of bleeding should receive anticoagulant therapy,” Eckman said, adding the more difficult assessment lies in determining the so-called tipping point, "where the risks of stroke and bleeding are more closely balanced."

Researchers used a standard computer program to build the CHADS2 model (used to estimate stroke risk in patients with atrial fibrillation), analyze results and perform sensitivity analyses.

"Our base case involved a hypothetical 69-year-old man with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who had no contraindications to warfarin therapy," said Eckman.

Scientists found warfarin is preferred above a stroke rate of 1.7 percent per year.

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Last Updated:
December 13, 2010