Dabigatran in nonvalvular atrial fibrillation: from clinical trials to real-life experience
Atrial fibrillation is the most common arrhythmia in over-midlife patients. In addition to systolic heart failure, cerebral thromboembolism represents the most dramatic complication of this rhythm disorder, contributing to morbidity and mortality. Traditionally, anticoagulation has been considered the main strategy in preventing stroke and systemic embolism in atrial fibrillation patients and vitamin K-dependent antagonists have been widely used in clinical practice. Recently, the development of direct oral anticoagulants has certainly improved the management of this disease, providing, for the first time, the opportunity to go beyond vitamin K-dependent antagonists limits. In the RE-LY trial, dabigatran 150 mg twice daily was superior to warfarin in the prevention of stroke or systemic embolism and dabigatran 110 mg twice daily was noninferior. Both doses greatly reduced hemorrhagic stroke, and dabigatran 110 mg twice daily significantly reduced major bleeding compared with warfarin. Based on these results, dabigatran, a direct thrombin inhibitor, was the first direct oral anticoagulant to receive the regulatory approval for nonvalvular atrial fibrillation patients. To date, a specific reversal agent has just been approved as an antidote for this molecule. This review provides a summary of randomized trials, postmarket registries and specific clinical-settings summary on dabigatran in nonvalvular atrial fibrillation.