BMC Cardiovascular Disorders (Oct 2021)

Shifting from vitamin K antagonists to non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants in patients with atrial fibrillation: predictors, patterns and temporal trends

  • Arthur Shiyovich,
  • Varda Shalev,
  • Gabriel Chodick,
  • Matanya Tirosh,
  • Amos Katz,
  • Miriam M. Klar,
  • Mony Shuvy,
  • David Pereg,
  • Sa’ar Minha

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 21, no. 1
pp. 1 – 10


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Abstract Background Non-Vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) emerged as an alternative with comparable or superior efficacy and safety to vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) for stroke prevention in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF). Objectives The aim of the current study was to investigate the patterns, predictors, timelines and temporal trends of shifting from VKAs to NOACs. Methods In this retrospective observational study, the computerized database of a large healthcare provider in Israel, Maccabi Healthcare Services, was searched to identify patients with AF for whom either a VKA or NOAC was prescribed between 2012 and 2015. Time from diagnosis to therapy initiation and to shifting between therapies was evaluated. Results Out of 6987 eligible AF incident patients, 2338 (33.4%) initiated treatment with a VKA and 2221 (31.7%) with a NOAC. In addition, 5259 prevalent patients were analyzed. During the study period, NOAC prescriptions proportion among the newly diagnosed cases increased from 32 to 68.4% (p for trend < 0.001). The median time from diagnosis to first dispensing was greater in NOAC than VKA and decreased among patients treated with NOAC during the study period (2012: 1.9 and 0.3 months, 2015: 0.7 and 0.2 months, respectively). During follow-up, 3737 (49%) patients (54.3% and 47.1% of the incident and prevalent cases, respectively), shifted from a VKA to a NOAC, after a median of 22 months and 39 months in the incident and prevalent cases, respectively, decreasing throughout the study period. Female gender, younger age, southern district, higher CHADS2 and CHA2DS2-VASC score, non-smoking, and treatment with antiplatelets were associated with a greater likelihood for therapy shift. Shifting from a NOAC to a VKA decreased over time from 8 to 4.5% in 2012 to 0.5% and 0.7% in 2015 in the incident and prevalent groups, p < 0.001 respectively. Conclusions Shifting from VKA to NOAC occurred in 50% of the cases, more frequently among incident cases, and younger patients with greater stroke risk. Shifting from a NOAC to a VKA was much less frequent, yet it occurred more often in incident cases and decreased over time. A socially and economically sensitive program to optimize the initiation of OAC therapy upon diagnosis is warranted.