Dabigatran and other oral antithrombotic agents for the prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation
Fernando D Testai, Venkatesh Aiyagari
Section of Neurological Critical Care and Stroke, Department of Neurology and Rehabilitation, Center for Stroke Research, University of Illinois College of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA
Abstract: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is considered to be one of the most prevalent abnormal heart rhythm disorders and a leading cause of cerebral ischemia. The risk of stroke in AF is associated with vascular risk factors including advancing age, hypertension, congestive heart disease, diabetes mellitus, vascular disease, and prior history of stroke or transient ischemic attack. The classic management of patients with AF at risk of suffering stroke includes the use of warfarin. The use of this medication in clinical practice is, however, limited owing to its narrow therapeutic window, multiple drug and food interactions, prolonged half-life, and the need for periodic anticoagulation monitoring. Recently, newer oral anticoagulants with better pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profiles have been developed and compared to warfarin in phase III trials for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with AF. Dabigatran stands out from these studies as a safe and efficacious alternative to warfarin for treating patients with AF at risk of stroke. In this article we review classic and novel approaches for stroke prevention in AF with special emphasis on dabigatran.
Keywords: oral anticoagulants, vitamin K antagonists, antiplatelet agents, stroke prevention, atrial fibrillation
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