Current and future alternatives to warfarin for the prevention of stroke in atrial fibrillation
Critical Pathways in Cardiology, 06/06/2012
Bommer WJ – This review examines advances in the management of stroke risk in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients, focusing on recently marketed and late–stage modalities. The advent of alternatives to warfarin for reducing stroke risk in AF patients may improve physicians' ability to offer safe and effective stroke prevention in all AF patients.
- Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained arrhythmia in clinical practice and is associated with a nearly 5–fold increase in the risk of stroke.
- Warfarin has been the cornerstone of treatment to reduce stroke risk in AF patients for decades.
- Although effective in preventing thrombosis, warfarin is difficult to manage and is associated with a 1% to 7% yearly risk of major hemorrhage.
- Until recently, there were no effective oral alternatives to warfarin.
- Dabigatran etexilate, a direct thrombin inhibitor, was approved in 2010 for the reduction of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular AF, and the factor Xa inhibitor rivaroxaban was approved for a similar indication in 2011.
- Other late–stage orally administered agents that may be approved for this indication include apixaban and edoxaban; others at earlier stages of development will be discussed in this review as well.
- Nonpharmacological approaches to stroke prevention include left atrial appendage removal, ligation, or occlusion.