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Systematic review and network meta-analysis of stroke prevention treatments in patients with atrial fibrillation

Authors Tawfik A, Bielecki J, Krahn M, Dorian P, Hoch J, Boon H, Husereau D, Pechlivanoglou P

Received 27 January 2016

Accepted for publication 27 April 2016

Published 11 August 2016 Volume 2016:8 Pages 93—107

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CPAA.S105165

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewers approved by Dr Lucy Goodman

Peer reviewer comments 4

Editor who approved publication: Professor Arthur Frankel


Amy Tawfik,1,2 Joanna M Bielecki,2 Murray Krahn,1,2 Paul Dorian,3,4 Jeffrey S Hoch,1,3,5 Heather Boon,1 Don Husereau,6 Petros Pechlivanoglou2

1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Leslie Dan Faculty of Pharmacy, 2Toronto Health Economics and Technology Assessment (THETA) Collaborative, University of Toronto, 3Centre for Excellence in Economic Analysis Research (CLEAR), Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St Michael’s Hospital, 4Department of Medicine and Cardiology, University of Toronto, 5Pharmacoeconomics Research Unit, Cancer Care Ontario, Toronto, ON, 6Institute of Health Economics, Edmonton, AB, Canada


Background: In the last 4 years, four novel oral anticoagulants have been developed as alternatives to warfarin and antiplatelet agents for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients. The objective of this review was to estimate the comparative effectiveness of all antithrombotic treatments for AF patients.
Materials and methods: Data sources were Medline Ovid (1946 to October 2015), Embase Ovid (1980 to October 2015), and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (­CENTRAL, Issue 9, 2015). Randomized controlled trials of AF patients were selected if they compared at least two of the following: placebo, aspirin, aspirin and clopidogrel combination therapy, adjusted-dose warfarin (target international normalized ratio 2.0–3.0), dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban. Bayesian network meta-analyses were conducted for outcomes of interest (all stroke, ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, overall mortality, major bleeding, and intracranial hemorrhage).
Results: Based on 16 randomized controlled trials of 96,826 patients, all oral anticoagulants were more effective than antiplatelet agents at reducing the risk of ischemic stroke and all strokes. Compared to warfarin, dabigatran 150 mg (rate ratio 0.65, 95% credible interval 0.52–0.82) and apixaban (rate ratio 0.82, 95% credible interval 0.69–0.97) reduced the risk of all strokes. Dabigatran 150 mg was also more effective than warfarin at reducing ischemic stroke risk (rate ratio 0.76, 95% credible interval 0.59–0.99). Aspirin, apixaban, dabigatran 110 mg, and edoxaban were associated with less major bleeding than warfarin.
Conclusion: All oral anticoagulants reduce the risk of stroke in AF patients. Some novel oral anticoagulants are associated with a lower stroke and/or major bleeding risk than warfarin. In addition to the safety and effectiveness of drug therapy, as reported in this study, individual treatment recommendations should also consider the patient’s underlying stroke and bleeding risk profile.

Keywords: meta-analysis, cerebrovascular disorders/drug therapy, stroke prevention, platelet-aggregation inhibitors, atrial fibrillation/prevention and control

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