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Circulation. 2019 Mar 19;139(12):1497-1506. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.118.035909.

Adherence to Guideline-Directed Stroke Prevention Therapy for Atrial Fibrillation Is Achievable.

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Duke Clinical Research Institute and Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC (J.P.P., H.X., M.C., R.A.M.).
Ronald Reagan-UCLA Medical Center, University of California, Los Angeles (G.C.F.).
Stony Brook University School of Medicine, NY (J.B.).
University at Buffalo, NY (A.B.C.).
Yale University, New Haven, CT (N.D.).
University of California, San Francisco (M.F.).
Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN (P.J.M.).
University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy, Aurora (R.L.P.).
VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University School of Medicine, CA (M.T.).
Cooper University Hospital, Camden, NJ (A.M.R.).
Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL (B.P.K.).
Albany Medical Center, NY (M.S.).
North Texas Heart Center, Dallas (J.L.H.).
Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond (K.A.E.).
MetroHealth System Campus, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH (W.R.L.).



Efforts to improve prescription of oral anticoagulation (OAC) drugs in patients with atrial fibrillation have had limited success in improving guideline adherence.


We evaluated adherence to the American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association performance measures for OAC in eligible patients with a CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2 and trends in prescription over time in the American Heart Association's Get With The Guidelines-AFIB (atrial fibrillation) registry. Adjusted associations with in-hospital outcomes were also determined. The cohort included 33 235 patients with a CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2 who were admitted for atrial fibrillation and were enrolled at 115 sites between January 1, 2013, and September 31, 2017.


The median (25th, 75th percentile) age was 73 years (65, 81 years); 51% were female; and the median (25th, 75th percentile) CHA2DS2-VASc score was 4 (3, 5). At admission, 16 206 (59.5%) of 27 221 patients with a previous diagnosis of atrial fibrillation were taking OAC agents, and OAC drug use at admission was associated with a lower adjusted odds of in-hospital ischemic stroke (odds ratio, 0.38; 95% CI, 0.24-0.59; P<0.0001). At discharge, prescription of OAC in eligible patients (no contraindications) was 93.5% (n=25 499 of 27 270). In a sensitivity analysis, when excluding only strict contraindications (4.6%, n=1497 of 32 806), OAC prescription at discharge was 80.3%. OAC prescription at discharge was higher in those aged ≤75 years, men, those with heart failure, those with previous atrial fibrillation ablation, and those with rhythm control ( P<0.0001 for all). OAC use was lowest in Hispanic patients (90.2%, P<0.0001). Prescription of OAC at discharge in eligible patients improved over time from 79.9% to 96.6% ( P<0.0001).


Among hospitals participating in the GWTG-AFIB quality improvement program, OAC prescription at discharge in eligible guideline-indicated patients increased significantly and improved consistently over time. These data confirm that high-level adherence to guideline-recommended stroke prevention is achievable.


atrial fibrillation; guideline adherence; measures; outcomes

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