Novel oral anticoagulants for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation: a focus on the older patient
Scott W Yates
Center for Executive Medicine, Plano, TX, USA
Abstract: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a common arrhythmia that is associated with an increased risk of stroke, particularly in the elderly. Traditionally, a vitamin K antagonist such as warfarin is prescribed for stroke prevention. Warfarin is effective at lowering stroke risk but has several limitations due to food restrictions, drug interactions, and a narrow therapeutic window. Various novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) are available or under development to provide alternative treatment options. This article reviews the efficacy and safety of three NOACs (dabigatran etexilate, rivaroxaban, and apixaban) in addition to warfarin and aspirin, for prevention of stroke in patients with AF, focusing on the elderly population. Results of clinical trials demonstrate that the efficacy of NOACs for stroke prevention in patients with AF is as good as or better than that of warfarin. The NOACs are also associated with an equivalent or lower risk of bleeding. Regardless of the medication chosen, older patients with AF must be treated cautiously due to an increased risk of stroke and bleeding, as well as potential challenges related to drug interactions and monitoring requirements. NOACs may be suitable alternatives to warfarin for stroke prevention in older patients due to several advantages, including a faster onset of action, few drug or food interactions, and no requirement for regular monitoring. However, dose adjustments may be required for certain patients, such as those with severe renal impairment or in the setting of drug interactions.
Keywords: aspirin, warfarin, dabigatran etexilate, rivaroxaban, apixaban