Trends in utilization of warfarin and direct oral anticoagulants in older adult patients with atrial fibrillation

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PurposeResults of a study to determine trends in oral anticoagulant (OAC) use and OAC switching in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) or atrial flutter are presented.MethodsWarfarin has been the most prescribed anticoagulant in patients with AF for decades. Since 2010, several direct OACs (DOACs) have gained U.S. marketing approval for stroke prevention in AF or atrial flutter. A cross-sectional longitudinal analysis was conducted using healthcare and prescription claims databases to characterize OAC use and rates of OAC and DOAC switching during the period 2008–14 in cohorts of Medicare beneficiaries 65 years of age or older with AF or atrial flutter.ResultsOverall, 66% of patients with AF or atrial flutter were receiving OACs during the study period. The prevalence of warfarin use decreased from 69.8% in 2008 to 42.2% in 2014. This decrease in warfarin use was paralleled by an increase in dabigatran use, which rose from 1.3% in 2010 to 12.1% in 2011 and then declined to 7.6% in 2014. The prevalence of rivaroxaban use increased from 0.13% in 2011 to 13.87% in 2014. Among anticoagulated patients, an average of 6% annually were switched from one OAC to another.ConclusionOverall OAC utilization in patients with AF or atrial flutter remained steady over the study period. Beginning in 2010, a gradual decrease in use of warfarin was paralleled by an increase in use of DOACs.

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