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Neth Heart J. 2013 Nov;21(11):480-4. doi: 10.1007/s12471-013-0473-0.

The new oral anticoagulants in atrial fibrillation: an update.

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Heartcenter, Department of Cardiology, Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis (OLVG), Oosterpark 9, 1091 AC, Amsterdam, the Netherlands,


In patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, oral anticoagulation with the vitamin K antagonists acenocoumarol, phenprocoumon and warfarin reduces the risk of stroke by more than 60 %, whereas single or double antiplatelet therapy is much less effective and sometimes associated with a similar bleeding risk as vitamin K antagonists. Besides bleeding, and intracranial haemorrhage in particular, INR monitoring remains the largest drawback of vitamin K antagonists. In the last decade oral agents have been developed that directly block the activity of thrombin (factor IIa), as well as drugs that directly inhibit activated factor X (Xa), which is the first compound in the final common pathway to the activation of thrombin. These agents have been approved for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation and are now reimbursed under a national guideline for their safe use. They have advantages in that they do not need monitoring and have a fast onset and offset of action, but lack an established specific antidote. This survey addresses the role of modern anticoagulation for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation.

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