Rivaroxaban as an oral anticoagulant for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation
Alexander GG Turpie
Department of Medicine, McMaster University, Hamilton, ONT, Canada
Abstract: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia in the developed world and is associated with a fivefold increase in the risk of stroke, accounting for up to 15% of strokes in the general population. The European Society of Cardiology now recommends direct oral anticoagulants, such as rivaroxaban, apixaban, and dabigatran, in preference to vitamin K antagonist therapy for the prevention of stroke in patients with AF. This review focuses on the direct Factor Xa inhibitor rivaroxaban, summarizing the properties that make rivaroxaban appropriate for anticoagulant therapy in this indication (including its predictable pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic profile and once-daily dosing regimen) and describing data from the Phase III ROCKET AF trial, which showed once-daily rivaroxaban to be noninferior to warfarin for the prevention of stroke in patients with nonvalvular AF. In this trial, similar rates of major and nonmajor clinically relevant bleeding were observed; however, when compared with warfarin, rivaroxaban was associated with clinically significant reductions in intracranial and fatal bleeding. On the basis of these results, rivaroxaban was approved in both the United States and the European Union for the prevention of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular AF. Subanalyses of ROCKET AF data showed rivaroxaban to have consistent efficacy and safety across a wide range of patients, and studies to confirm these results in real-world settings are underway. This review also describes practical considerations for treatment with rivaroxaban in clinical practice (including dose reductions in specific high-risk patients, eg, those with renal impairment), recommendations for the transition from vitamin K antagonists to rivaroxaban, the management of bleeding events, and the measurement of rivaroxaban exposure.
Keywords: atrial fibrillation, stroke, rivaroxaban, anticoagulation
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