Cochrane for Clinicians

Putting Evidence into Practice

Antiplatelet vs. Anticoagulant Therapy for Patients with Heart Failure in Sinus Rhythm

 

Am Fam Physician. 2017 Aug 1;96(3):160.

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

Clinical Question

For patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction in sinus rhythm, is warfarin (Coumadin) therapy superior to aspirin regarding the risk of cardiac events and mortality?

Evidence-Based Answer

Heart failure increases the risk of thrombotic complications, but use of warfarin does not lower all-cause mortality more than aspirin in patients with heart failure with reduced ejection fraction in sinus rhythm. Warfarin lowered the rate of nonfatal cardiovascular events slightly (relative risk [RR] = 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.63 to 1.00) but increased the risk of major bleeding complications (RR = 2.00; 95% CI, 1.44 to 2.78).1 (Strength of Recommendation: B, based on inconsistent or limited-quality patient-oriented evidence.)

Practice Pointers

Heart failure is a clinical syndrome associated with significant morbidity, mortality, and financial burdens. In chronic heart failure, cardiac structural abnormalities set off a cascade of maladaptive compensatory events that can lead to thrombotic complications, including thromboembolism and stroke.2 For patients with heart failure in sinus rhythm, evidence-based pharmacologic treatment includes aspirin if atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) is present.3 A previous Cochrane review by the same authors compared anticoagulation (i.e., warfarin) and placebo in patients with heart failure in sinus rhythm and found that it did not improve mortality or vascular events.4 For the current review, the authors performed a literature search to assess whether warfarin would be beneficial in this subset of patients with heart failure by comparing it with aspirin to decrease all-cause mortality, nonfatal cardiovascular events, and risk of major bleeding.

This Cochrane review included four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 3,663 patients.1 All four studies had a low risk of selection bias and all compared warfarin with 162 mg, 300 mg, or 325 mg of aspirin in patients with clinically defined heart failure (i.e., with

Author disclosure: No relevant financial affiliations.

REFERENCES

show all references

1. Shantsila E, Lip GY. Antiplatelet versus anticoagulation treatment for patients with heart failure in sinus rhythm. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;(9):CD003333....

2. Krum H, Abraham WT. Heart failure. Lancet. 2009;373(9667):941–955.

3. Pinkerman C, Sander P, Breeding JE, et al. Heart Failure in Adults. 13th ed. Bloomington, Minn.: Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement; 2013.

4. Lip GY, Shantsila E. Anticoagulation versus placebo for heart failure in sinus rhythm. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2014;(3):CD003336.

5. Zannad F, Greenberg B, Cleland JG, et al. Rationale and design of a randomized, double-blind, event-driven, multicentre study comparing the efficacy and safety of oral rivaroxaban with placebo for reducing the risk of death, myocardial infarction or stroke in subjects with heart failure and significant coronary artery disease following an exacerbation of heart failure: the COMMANDER HF trial. Eur J Heart Fail. 2015;17(7):735–742.

6. Bibbins-Domingo K. Aspirin use for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and colorectal cancer: U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation statement. Ann Intern Med. 2016;164(12):836–845.

These are summaries of reviews from the Cochrane Library.

This series is coordinated by Corey D. Fogleman, MD, Assistant Medical Editor.

A collection of Cochrane for Clinicians published in AFP is available at https://www.aafp.org/afp/cochrane.

 

 

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