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Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2013 Jun;14(9):1119-33. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2013.789022. Epub 2013 Apr 11.

The hidden costs of anticoagulation in hospitalized patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation.

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  • 1University of New Mexico Hospital, Inpatient Pharmacy Department, Albuquerque, NM, USA.



Non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) and ischemic stroke are collectively associated with annual hospital costs of tens of billions of dollars in the USA. Oral anticoagulant (OAC) treatment with warfarin reduces the risk of stroke in patients with NVAF. Unfortunately, because of the complexity of warfarin therapy and potential for adverse events (AEs), many patients who might benefit go untreated or receive suboptimal therapy, increasing their stroke and/or bleeding risk.


This review explores current hospital costs and resource utilization for NVAF patients on warfarin therapy and the potential impact of newer OACs in this area.


Many ischemic strokes could be prevented through wider use of OACs. Further, admissions due to anticoagulant-associated AEs could be reduced by optimizing OAC therapy. In the hospital, specialized anticoagulation services can decrease costs by improving the effectiveness of warfarin management, empowering patients through education and optimizing care transitions. With fewer interactions and no dose titration or monitoring required, the novel OACs (NOACs) have the potential to further decrease inpatient resource utilization and costs. It is important that, as data become available, inpatient costs are included in cost-benefit comparisons between warfarin and the NOACs.

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