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Current issues in patient adherence and persistence: focus on anticoagulants for the treatment and prevention of thromboembolism

Authors Patrick P Kneeland, Margaret C Fang

Published 11 March 2010 Volume 2010:4 Pages 51—60


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Patrick P Kneeland, Margaret C Fang

The University of California, San Francisco Division of Hospital Medicine, San Francisco, CA, USA

Abstract: Warfarin therapy reduces morbidity and mortality related to thromboembolism. Yet adherence to long-term warfarin therapy remains challenging due to the risks of anticoagulantassociated complications and the burden of monitoring. The aim of this paper is to review determinants of adherence and persistence on long-term anticoagulant therapy for atrial fibrillation and venous thromboembolism. We evaluate what the current literature reveals about the impact of warfarin on quality of life, examine warfarin trial data for patterns of adherence, and summarize known risk factors for warfarin discontinuation. Studies suggest only modest adverse effects of warfarin on quality of life, but highlight the variability of individual lifestyle experiences of patients on warfarin. Interestingly, clinical trials comparing anticoagulant adherence to alternatives (such as aspirin) show that discontinuation rates on warfarin are not consistently higher than in control arms. Observational studies link a number of risk factors to warfarin non-adherence including younger age, male sex, lower stroke risk, poor cognitive function, poverty, and higher educational attainment. In addition to differentiating the relative impact of warfarin-associated complications (such as bleeding) versus the lifestyle burdens of warfarin monitoring on adherence, future investigation should focus on optimizing patient education and enhancing models of physician–patient shared-decision making around anticoagulation.
Keywords: anticoagulation, warfarin, adherence, persistence, thromboembolism

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