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Practical and clinical considerations in assessing patients with atrial fibrillation for switching to non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants in primary care

Authors Guimarães P, Kaatz S, Lopes RD

Received 1 May 2015

Accepted for publication 20 June 2015

Published 7 September 2015 Volume 2015:8 Pages 283—291


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Dr Scott Fraser

Patrícia O Guimarães,1 Scott Kaatz,2 Renato D Lopes1

1Duke Clinical Research Institute, Duke Medicine, Durham, NC, 2Hurley Medical Center, Flint, MI, USA

Abstract: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an important risk factor for thromboembolic events, and anticoagulation therapy can reduce this risk. Vitamin K antagonists (VKAs), such as warfarin, have been used for decades in patients with AF for stroke prevention. Currently, non-VKA oral anticoagulants (NOACs) are approved and available for non-valvular AF patients who are at increased risk of stroke. These agents are safe and effective and have important advantages over VKAs, such as significant reduction in intracranial hemorrhage and no need for routine laboratory monitoring. Thus, should all VKA-treated patients be switched to a NOAC? The aims of this article are: 1) to review the advantages of NOACs over VKAs; 2) to identify the group of patients who most benefit from receiving a NOAC and, therefore, are higher priority to be switched from VKAs; and 3) to provide clinical and practical guidance on how to switch patients safely from VKAs to NOACs.

Keywords: anticoagulation, atrial fibrillation, clinical practice, stroke prevention

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