Occurrence of death and stroke in patients in 47 countries 1 year after presenting with atrial fibrillation: a cohort study


Atrial fibrillation is an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, but scant data are available for long-term outcomes in individuals outside North America or Europe, especially in primary care settings.


We did a cohort study using a prospective registry of patients in 47 countries who presented to a hospital emergency department with atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter as a primary or secondary diagnosis. 15 400 individuals were enrolled to determine the occurrence of death and strokes (the primary outcomes) in this cohort over eight geographical regions (North America, western Europe, and Australia; South America; eastern Europe; the Middle East and Mediterranean crescent; sub-Saharan Africa; India; China; and southeast Asia) 1 year after attending the emergency department. Patients from North America, western Europe, and Australia were used as the reference population, and compared with patients from the other seven regions


Between Dec 24, 2007, and Oct 21, 2011, we enrolled 15 400 individuals to the registry. Follow-up was complete for 15 361 (99·7%), of whom 1758 (11%) died within 1 year. Fewer deaths occurred among patients presenting to the emergency department with a primary diagnosis of atrial fibrillation compared with patients who had atrial fibrillation as a secondary diagnosis (377 [6%] of 6825 patients vs 1381 [16%] of 8536, p<0·0001). Twice as many patients had died by 1 year in South America (192 [17%] of 1132) and Africa (225 [20%] of 1137) compared with North America, western Europe, and Australia (366 [10%] of 3800, p<0·0001). Heart failure was the most common cause of death (519 [30%] of 1758); stroke caused 148 (8%) deaths. 604 (4%) of 15361 patients had had a stroke by 1 year; 170 (3%) of 6825 for whom atrial fibrillation was a primary diagnosis and 434 (5%) of 8536 for whom it was a secondary diagnosis (p<0·0001). The highest number of strokes occurred in patients in Africa (89 [8%] of 1137), China (143 [7%] of 2023), and southeast Asia (88 [7%] of 1331) and the lowest occurred in India (20 [<1%] of 2536). 94 (3%) of 3800 patients in North America, western Europe, and Australia had a stroke.


Marked unexplained inter-regional variations in the occurrence of stroke and mortality suggest that factors other than clinical variables might be important. Prevention of death from heart failure should be a major priority in the treatment of atrial fibrillation.


Boehringer Ingelheim.

The Lancet, Volume 388, No. 10050, p1161–1169, 17 September 2016

Atrial fibrillation and risks of cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and death: systematic review and meta-analysis

Objective To quantify the association between atrial fibrillation and cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and death.

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources Medline and Embase.

Eligibility criteria Cohort studies examining the association between atrial fibrillation and cardiovascular disease, renal disease, and death. Two reviewers independently extracted study characteristics and the relative risk of outcomes associated with atrial fibrillation: specifically, all cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, major cardiovascular events, any stroke, ischaemic stroke, haemorrhagic stroke, ischaemic heart disease, sudden cardiac death, congestive heart failure, chronic kidney disease, and peripheral arterial disease. Estimates were pooled with inverse variance weighted random effects meta-analysis.

Results 104 eligible cohort studies involving 9 686 513 participants (587 867 with atrial fibrillation) were identified. Atrial fibrillation was associated with an increased risk of all cause mortality (relative risk 1.46, 95% confidence interval 1.39 to 1.54), cardiovascular mortality (2.03, 1.79 to 2.30), major cardiovascular events (1.96, 1.53 to 2.51), stroke (2.42, 2.17 to 2.71), ischaemic stroke (2.33, 1.84 to 2.94), ischaemic heart disease (1.61, 1.38 to 1.87), sudden cardiac death (1.88, 1.36 to 2.60), heart failure (4.99, 3.04 to 8.22), chronic kidney disease (1.64, 1.41 to 1.91), and peripheral arterial disease (1.31, 1.19 to 1.45) but not haemorrhagic stroke (2.00, 0.67 to 5.96). Among the outcomes examined, the highest absolute risk increase was for heart failure. Associations between atrial fibrillation and included outcomes were broadly consistent across subgroups and in sensitivity analyses.

Conclusions Atrial fibrillation is associated with an increased risk of death and an increased risk of cardiovascular and renal disease. Interventions aimed at reducing outcomes beyond stroke are warranted in patients with atrial fibrillation.

BMJ 2016;354:i4482

Comparative effectiveness and safety of non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants and warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation: propensity weighted nationwide cohort study

Objective To study the effectiveness and safety of the non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (novel oral anticoagulants, NOACs) dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban compared with warfarin in anticoagulant naïve patients with atrial fibrillation.

Design Observational nationwide cohort study.

Setting Three Danish nationwide databases, August 2011 to October 2015.

Participants 61 678 patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation who were naïve to oral anticoagulants and had no previous indication for valvular atrial fibrillation or venous thromboembolism. The study population was distributed according to treatment type: warfarin (n=35 436, 57%), dabigatran 150 mg (n=12 701, 21%), rivaroxaban 20 mg (n=7192, 12%), and apixaban 5 mg (n=6349, 10%).

Main outcome measures Effectiveness outcomes defined a priori were ischaemic stroke; a composite of ischaemic stroke or systemic embolism; death; and a composite of ischaemic stroke, systemic embolism, or death. Safety outcomes were any bleeding, intracranial bleeding, and major bleeding.

Results When the analysis was restricted to ischaemic stroke, NOACs were not significantly different from warfarin. During one year follow-up, rivaroxaban was associated with lower annual rates of ischaemic stroke or systemic embolism (3.0% v 3.3%, respectively) compared with warfarin: hazard ratio 0.83 (95% confidence interval 0.69 to 0.99). The hazard ratios for dabigatran and apixaban (2.8% and 4.9% annually, respectively) were non-significant compared with warfarin. The annual risk of death was significantly lower with apixaban (5.2%) and dabigatran (2.7%) (0.65, 0.56 to 0.75 and 0.63, 0.48 to 0.82, respectively) compared with warfarin (8.5%), but not with rivaroxaban (7.7%). For the combined endpoint of any bleeding, annual rates for apixaban (3.3%) and dabigatran (2.4%) were significantly lower than for warfarin (5.0%) (0.62, 0.51 to 0.74). Warfarin and rivaroxaban had comparable annual bleeding rates (5.3%).

Conclusion All NOACs seem to be safe and effective alternatives to warfarin in a routine care setting. No significant difference was found between NOACs and warfarin for ischaemic stroke. The risks of death, any bleeding, or major bleeding were significantly lower for apixaban and dabigatran compared with warfarin.

BMJ 2016;353:i3189

Polypharmacy and effects of apixaban versus warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation: post hoc analysis of the ARISTOTLE trial

Objective To determine whether the treatment effect of apixaban versus warfarin differs with increasing numbers of concomitant drugs used by patients with atrial fibrillation.

Design Post hoc analysis performed in 2015 of results from ARISTOTLE (apixaban for reduction in stroke and other thromboembolic events in atrial fibrillation)—a multicentre, double blind, double dummy trial that started in 2006 and ended in 2011.

Participants 18 201 ARISTOTLE trial participants.

Interventions In the ARISTOTLE trial, patients were randomised to either 5 mg apixaban twice daily (n=9120) or warfarin (target international normalised ratio range 2.0-3.0; n=9081). In the post hoc analysis, patients were divided into groups according to the number of concomitant drug treatments used at baseline (0-5, 6-8, ≥9 drugs) with a median follow-up of 1.8 years.

Main outcome measures Clinical outcomes and treatment effects of apixaban versus warfarin (adjusted for age, sex, and country).

Results Each patient used a median of six drugs (interquartile range 5-9); polypharmacy (≥5 drugs) was seen in 13 932 (76.5%) patients. Greater numbers of concomitant drugs were used in older patients, women, and patients in the United States. The number of comorbidities increased across groups of increasing numbers of drugs (0-5, 6-8, ≥9 drugs), as did the proportions of patients treated with drugs that interact with warfarin or apixaban. Mortality also rose significantly with the number of drug treatments (P<0.001), as did rates of stroke or systemic embolism (1.29, 1.48, and 1.57 per 100 patient years, for 0-5, 6-8, and ≥9 drugs, respectively) and major bleeding (1.91, 2.46, and 3.88 per 100 patient years, respectively). Relative risk reductions in stroke or systemic embolism for apixaban versus warfarin were consistent, regardless of the number of concomitant drugs (Pinteraction=0.82). A smaller reduction in major bleeding was seen with apixaban versus warfarin with increasing numbers of concomitant drugs (Pinteraction=0.017). Patients with interacting (potentiating) drugs for warfarin or apixaban had similar outcomes and consistent treatment effects of apixaban versus warfarin.

Conclusions In the ARISTOTLE trial, three quarters of patients had polypharmacy; this subgroup had an increased comorbidity, more interacting drugs, increased mortality, and higher rates of thromboembolic and bleeding complications. In terms of a potential differential response to anticoagulation therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation and polypharmacy, apixaban was more effective than warfarin, and is at least just as safe.

Trial registration ARISTOTLE trial, ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00412984.

BMJ 2016;353:i2868

The novel biomarker-based ABC (age, biomarkers, clinical history)-bleeding risk score for patients with atrial fibrillation: a derivation and validation study


The benefit of oral anticoagulation in atrial fibrillation is based on a balance between reduction in ischaemic stroke and increase in major bleeding. We aimed to develop and validate a new biomarker-based risk score to improve the prognostication of major bleeding in patients with atrial fibrillation.


We developed and internally validated a new biomarker-based risk score for major bleeding in 14 537 patients with atrial fibrillation randomised to apixaban versus warfarin in the ARISTOTLE trial and externally validated it in 8468 patients with atrial fibrillation randomised to dabigatran versus warfarin in the RE-LY trial. Plasma samples for determination of candidate biomarker concentrations were obtained at randomisation. Major bleeding events were centrally adjudicated. The predictive values of biomarkers and clinical variables were assessed with Cox regression models. The most important variables were included in the score with weights proportional to the model coefficients. The ARISTOTLE and RE-LY trials are registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, numbers NCT00412984 andNCT00262600, respectively.


The most important predictors for major bleeding were the concentrations of the biomarkers growth differentiation factor-15 (GDF-15), high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (cTnT-hs) and haemoglobin, age, and previous bleeding. The ABC-bleeding score (age, biomarkers [GDF-15, cTnT-hs, and haemoglobin], and clinical history [previous bleeding]) score yielded a higher c-index than the conventional HAS-BLED and the newer ORBIT scores for major bleeding in both the derivation cohort (0·68 [95% CI 0·66–0·70] vs 0·61 [0·59–0·63] vs 0·65 [0·62–0·67], respectively; ABC-bleeding vs HAS-BLED p<0·0001 and ABC-bleeding vs ORBIT p=0·0008). ABC-bleeding score also yielded a higher c-index score in the the external validation cohort (0·71 [95% CI 0·68–0·73] vs 0·62 [0·59–0·64] for HAS-BLED vs0·68 [0·65–0·70] for ORBIT; ABC-bleeding vs HAS-BLED p<0·0001 and ABC-bleeding vs ORBIT p=0·0016). A modified ABC-bleeding score using alternative biomarkers (haematocrit, cTnI-hs, cystatin C, or creatinine clearance) also outperformed the HAS-BLED and ORBIT scores.


The ABC-bleeding score, using age, history of bleeding, and three biomarkers (haemoglobin, cTn-hs, and GDF-15 or cystatin C/CKD-EPI) was internally and externally validated and calibrated in large cohorts of patients with atrial fibrillation receiving anticoagulation therapy. The ABC-bleeding score performed better than HAS-BLED and ORBIT scores and should be useful as decision support on anticoagulation treatment in patients with atrial fibrillation.


BMS, Pfizer, Boehringer Ingelheim, Roche Diagnostics.

Prediction of rates of thromboembolic and major bleeding outcomes with dabigatran or warfarin among patients with atrial fibrillation: new initiator cohort study

Objectives To compare stratified event rates from randomized controlled trials with predicted event rates from models developed in observational data, and assess their ability to accurately capture observed rates of thromboembolism and major bleeding for patients treated with dabigatran or warfarin as part of routine care.

Design New initiator cohort study.

Setting Data from United Health (October 2009 to June 2013), a commercial healthcare claims database in the United States.

Participants 21 934 adults with atrial fibrillation initiating dabigatran (150 mg dose only) or warfarin treatment as part of routine care.

Main outcome measures Predicted annual rates of thromboembolism or major bleeding, based on estimates from randomized controlled trials, models developed in routine care patients, and baseline risk scores (CHADS2, CHA2DS2-VASc, and HAS-BLED). Thromboembolism was a composite outcome, including primary inpatient diagnosis codes for ischemic or ill defined stroke, transient ischemic attack, pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis, and systemic embolism. Major bleeding was a composite outcome including codes occurring in an inpatient setting for hemorrhagic stroke; major upper, lower, or unspecified gastrointestinal bleed; and major urogenital or other bleed.

Results 6516 (30%) and 15 418 (70%) of patients initiated dabigatran and warfarin, respectively. Annual event rates per 100 patients were 1.7 for thromboembolism and 4.6 for major bleeding. For thromboembolism, calibration of estimates from randomized controlled trials was similar to calibration for model based predictions; however, trial estimates for major bleeding consistently underestimated the rate of bleeding among patients in routine care. Underestimation of bleeding rates was particularly pronounced in warfarin initiators with high HAS-BLED scores, where event rates were underestimated by up to 4.0 per 100 patient years. Harrell’s c indices for discrimination for thromboembolism or major bleeding in dabigatran and warfarin initiators ranged between 0.59 and 0.66 for randomized controlled trial predictions, and between 0.52 and 0.70 for cross validated model based predictions.

Conclusion Estimated rates of thromboembolism under dabigatran or warfarin treatment in randomized controlled trials were close to observed rates in routine care patients. However, rates of major bleeding were underestimated. Models developed in routine care patients can provide accurate, tailored estimates of risk and benefit under alternative treatment to enhance patient centered care.

BMJ 2016;353:i2607

Real world effectiveness of warfarin among ischemic stroke patients with atrial fibrillation: observational analysis from Patient-Centered Research into Outcomes Stroke Patients Prefer and Effectiveness Research (PROSPER) study

Objective To examine the association between warfarin treatment and longitudinal outcomes after ischemic stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation in community practice.

Design Observational study.

Setting Hospitals (n=1487) participating in the Get With The Guidelines (GWTG)-Stroke program in the United States, from 2009 to 2011.

Participants 12,552 warfarin naive atrial fibrillation patients admitted to hospital for ischemic stroke and treated with warfarin compared with no oral anticoagulant at discharge, linked to Medicare claims for longitudinal outcomes.

Main outcome measures Major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE) and home time, a patient centered outcomes measure defined as the total number of days free from institutional care after discharge. A propensity score inverse probability weighting method was used to account for all differences in observed characteristics between treatment groups.

Results Among 12,552 survivors of stroke, 11,039 (88%) were treated with warfarin at discharge. Warfarin treated patients were slightly younger and less likely to have a history of previous stroke or coronary artery disease but had similar severity of stroke as measured by the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale. Relative to those not treated, patients treated with warfarin had more days at home (as opposed to institutional care) during the two years after discharge (adjusted home time difference 47.6 days, 99% confidence interval 26.9 to 68.2). Patients discharged on warfarin treatment also had a reduced risk of MACE (adjusted hazard ratio 0.87, 99% confidence interval 0.78 to 0.98), all cause mortality (0.72, 0.63 to 0.84), and recurrent ischemic stroke (0.63, 0.48 to 0.83). These differences were consistent among clinically relevant subgroups by age, sex, stroke severity, and history of previous coronary artery disease and stroke.

Conclusions Among ischemic stroke patients with atrial fibrillation, warfarin treatment was associated with improved long term clinical outcomes and more days at home.

Real world effectiveness of warfarin among ischemic stroke patients with atrial fibrillation: observational analysis from Patient-Centered Research into Outcomes Stroke Patients Prefer and Effectiveness Research (PROSPER) study by Ying Xian, et al. BMJ 2015; 351 :h3786