Atrial fibrillation and flutter (AF, collectively) cause stroke. We evaluated whether treating specialty influences warfarin prescription in patients with newly diagnosed AF.Methods
In the TREAT-AF study, we used Veterans Health Administration health record and claims data to identify patients with newly diagnosed AF between October 2004 and November 2008 and at least 1 internal medicine/primary care or cardiology outpatient encounter within 90 days after diagnosis. The primary outcome was prescription of warfarin.Results
In 141,642 patients meeting the inclusion criteria, the mean age was 72.3 ± 10.2 years, 1.48% were women, and 25.8% had cardiology outpatient care. Cardiology-treated patients had more comorbidities and higher mean CHADS2 scores (1.8 vs 1.6, P < .0001). Warfarin use was higher in cardiology-treated vs primary care only-treated patients (68.6% vs 48.9%, P < .0001). After covariate and site-level adjustment, cardiology care was significantly associated with warfarin use (odds ratio [OR] 2.05, 95% CI 1.99–2.11). These findings were consistent across a series of adjusted models (OR 2.05–2.20), propensity matching (OR 1.98), and subgroup analyses (OR 1.58–2.11). Warfarin use in primary-care-only patients declined from 2004 to 2008 (51.6%-44.0%, P < .0001), whereas the adjusted odds of warfarin receipt with cardiology care (vs primary care) increased from 2004 to 2008 (1.88–2.24, P < .0001).Conclusion
In patients with newly diagnosed AF, we found large differences in anticoagulation use by treating specialty. A divergent 5-year trend of risk-adjusted warfarin use was observed. Treating specialty influences stroke prevention care and may impact clinical outcomes.