And that goes against current treatment guidelines, said the Duke University Medical Center researchers behind this study. People with AFib face a raised risk of having a stroke, and anticoagulant (blood-thinning) medications help reduce that risk, they said.
AFib is a condition that involves an abnormal heart rhythm that leads to pooling of the blood in the heart and an increased risk for clotting events like strokes. Treatment guidelines recommend giving blood-thinning medication to people with AFib to prevent a stroke.
This study, which included more than 94,000 patients with AFib who had a stroke, found that those guidelines were not always being followed. Only 16 percent of the study patients had received the recommended blood-thinning medicine prior to having a stroke.
"These findings highlight the human costs of atrial fibrillation and the importance of appropriate anticoagulation," said lead study author Dr. Ying Xian, of the Duke Clinical Research Institute, in a press release. "Broader adherence to these atrial fibrillation treatment guidelines could substantially reduce both the number and severity of strokes in the US. We estimate that between 58,000 to 88,000 strokes might be preventable per year if the treatment guidelines are followed appropriately."
If you have AFib, talk to your doctor about which medications are appropriate for you.
This study was published in JAMA.
The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute funded this research. Information regarding potential conflicts of interest was not available at the time of publication.