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Am J Cardiovasc Drugs. 2015 Oct;15(5):323-35. doi: 10.1007/s40256-015-0124-5.

Non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants: new choices for patient management in atrial fibrillation.

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Cleveland Clinic Main Campus, Mail Code J2-2, 9500 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH, 44195, USA.


Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a significant problem for the aging population and remains a major factor underlying stroke risk. Warfarin anticoagulation has been proven effective for stroke prevention in AF, but can be difficult to manage and requires frequent monitoring. The non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) have been shown to be as effective as warfarin for stroke prevention in nonvalvular AF (NVAF) and are associated with a reduced risk of bleeding compared with warfarin. Dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban have been approved in the USA for reducing the risk of stroke in patients with NVAF. In this article, AF risk assessment is discussed and NOAC phase III clinical trials for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolic events are reviewed. Further, differences in stroke and bleeding outcomes between NOACs are highlighted, the use of NOACs for cardioversion and special patient populations is discussed, and management considerations for patients with AF are reviewed.

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