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Atrial fibrillation

Anticoagulant prescribing for AF patients with high stroke risk more than doubles

Anticoagulant prescribing for patients at high risk of stroke has more than doubled since 2000, with anticoagulant prescribing for patients at low risk halving during the same period.

GP prescribing of anticoagulants for the treatment of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and a high risk of stroke more than doubled between 2000 and 2016, from 35.4% to 75.5%, according to research published in Heart (July 2018).

The researchers from the University of Birmingham also found that the prevalence of recorded AF increased across all ages and sexes in the same period, from 2.14% to 3.29%.

The researchers based their findings on 17 analyses of GP patient records in the UK, held by the Health Improvement Network.

During 2000 and 2016, prescribing of anticoagulants for patients assessed to have a moderate stroke risk also increased from 32.8% to 47.1%, with the prevalence of anticoagulant prescribing for patients assessed to be low risk from a stoke falling from 19.9% to 9.7%.

The prescribing performance — the number of patients identified with AF who should be treated with anticoagulants — varied between practices from 82.9% in the best performing practices to a low of 62%.

The researchers wrote: “The use of anticoagulants in patients with AF has improved greatly over the past 17 years, with a doubling in the proportion of eligible patients treated alongside a halving of treatment of ineligible patients.

”There remains scope for improvement in patients at moderate risk, particularly in the general practices with the lowest prescribing rates.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205186

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