Patient-Oriented Evidence That Matters
Direct Oral Anticoagulants Preferred Over Warfarin for Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation in Patients Also Taking Low-Dose Aspirin
Am Fam Physician. 2018 Dec 1;98(11):683.
What is the best approach to anticoagulation for patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation who also take low-dose aspirin?
The balance of benefits and harms favors direct oral anticoagulants over warfarin (Coumadin) for patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation who require anticoagulation and are already taking low-dose aspirin. It is worth noting that for low-risk patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, aspirin alone is an option. Because these patients were largely taking aspirin as a secondary prevention for cardiovascular disease, edoxaban (Savaysa) was least likely to increase the risk of myocardial infarction. (Level of Evidence = 1a)
Many patients with atrial fibrillation have a separate indication for aspirin. This meta-analysis performed a thorough search of several databases and identified four randomized trials with a total of 21,722 patients who had nonvalvular atrial fibrillation and were taking antiplatelet therapy (most commonly low-dose aspirin) for cardiovascular prevention. Each of the studies randomized patients to receive warfarin or a direct oral anticoagulant such as edoxaban, apixaban (Eliquis), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), or dabigatran (Pradaxa). The studies had between 1.8 and 2.8 years of follow-up. The mean age of included patients was between 70 and 72 years, approximately one-third were women, and between 10% and 55% had experienced a previous stroke. After performing a random effects meta-analysis, the authors found that patients randomized to receive direct oral anticoagulants were less likely to experience a stroke or systemic embolism (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.78; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.67 to 0.91) or vascular death (HR = 0.85; CI, 0.76 to 0.93) than those randomized to receive warfarin. There was a trend toward a higher risk of myocardial infarction in the direct oral anticoagulant group, primarily driven by the one dabigatran trial (HR = 1.2; CI, 0.97 to 1.4), but a trend toward fewer major hemorrhages with direct oral anticoagulants (HR = 0.83; CI, 0.69 to 1.01). Patients randomized to receive a direct oral anticoagulant were significantly less likely to experience intracranial hemorrhage (HR = 0.38; CI, 0.26 to 0.56). There was minimal to moderate heterogeneity for most outcomes, although the measure used (I2) is unreliable with only four studies.
Study design: Meta-analysis (randomized controlled trials)
Funding source: Foundation
Setting: Outpatient (any)
Reference: Bennaghmouch N, de Veer AJWM, Bode K, et al. Efficacy and safety of the use of non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation and concomitant aspirin therapy: a meta-analysis of randomized trials. Circulation. 2018;137(11):1117–1129.
Editor's Note: Dr. Mark H. Ebell is Deputy Editor for Evidence-Based Medicine in AFP and cofounder and Editor-in-Chief of Essential Evidence Plus, published by Wiley-Blackwell, Inc. Dr. Allen F. Shaughnessy is an Assistant Medical Editor for AFP.
POEMs (patient-oriented evidence that matters) are provided by Essential Evidence Plus, a point-of-care clinical decision support system published by Wiley-Blackwell. For more information, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com. Copyright Wiley-Blackwell. Used with permission.
For definitions of levels of evidence used in POEMs, see http://www.essentialevidenceplus.com/product/ebm_loe.cfm?show=oxford.
To subscribe to a free podcast of these and other POEMs that appear in AFP, search in iTunes for “POEM of the Week” or go to http://goo.gl/3niWXb.
This series is coordinated by Sumi Sexton, MD, Editor-in-Chief.
A collection of POEMs published in AFP is available at https://www.aafp.org/afp/poems.
Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions
More in AFP
MOST RECENT ISSUE
Access the latest issue of American Family Physician