The method described provides a rational means for determining whether to institute chronic anticoagulation to prevent stroke in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation under a variety of clinical circumstances.Summary of Comment
The concept of expected value is used in conjunction with data from clinical studies to define the net value of anticoagulation to the patient. A full year of anticoagulation is warranted in patients with recent stroke or transient ischemic attack thought to be due to cardiogenic embolism who feel that stroke is a very serious event with nearly as much disvalue as death. If stroke has a lesser degree of negative value to the patient, or it is uncertain whether the stroke was in a large-vessel distribution, or it is uncertain whether a large-vessel distribution stroke was due to cardiogenic embolism, 6 months or less of anticoagulation may be warranted. Indefinite anticoagulation is justifiable in most patients with chronic atrial fibrillation without a history of stroke or transient ischemic attack but may be contrain-dicated in certain patients at extremely low risk for embolism and in patients who place a low value on stroke relative to death and who have a modest increase in risk for fatal hemorrhage.Conclusions
The method described provides a means readily usable by clinicians to make anticoagulation decisions in patients with chronic atrial fibrillation that will address risk-benefit tradeoffs with somewhat greater precision than current approaches.