Anticoagulants underused in patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation

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Patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation are significantly less likely to receive anticoagulants compared to patients with persistent or permanent forms.

Patients with paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF) should be given the same priority for stroke prevention as other AF patients.

That is according to Dr Nicola Adderley, one of the authors of a new study published in  Heart , which found patients with paroxysmal AF are significantly less likely to receive anticoagulants for stroke prevention than patients with persistent or permanent AF.

The study analysed the records of 14 million patients from 648 GP surgeries across the UK over a 15-year period. It found that in 2000, eligible patients with paroxysmal AF were half as likely to be treated with anticoagulants as patients with other forms of AF. The rate of anticoagulant use improved over time, but in 2015, eligible patients with paroxysmal AF were still around 20 per cent less likely to be prescribed anticoagulant medication.

“Underuse of anticoagulants in patients with paroxysmal AF is likely to result in preventable strokes among this group, leading to greater levels of avoidable death and disability,” said Dr Adderley. “Although the gap is narrowing, we need to remind ourselves that all patients with AF are at increased risk of stroke. Paroxysmal AF patients should be given the same priority for stroke prevention as other AF patients.”

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