Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a major risk factor for stroke as it increases the incidence of stroke nearly fivefold. Antithrombotic treatment is recommended for the prevention of stroke in AF patients. However, majorly due to fear of risk of bleeding, adherence to recommendations is not observed. The aim of this study was to investigate the impact of antithrombotic undertreatment, on ischemic stroke and/or all-cause mortality in patients with AF.
Methods: A retrospective cohort study was conducted from January 7, 2017 to April 30 2017 using medical records of patients with AF attending Gondar University Hospital (GUH) between November 2012 and September 2016. Patients receiving appropriate antithrombotic management and those on undertreatment, were followed for development of ischemic stroke and/or all-cause mortality. Kaplan-Meier and a log-rank test was used to plot the survival analysis curve. Cox regression was used to determine the predictors of guideline-adherent antithrombotic therapy.
Results: The final analysis included 159 AF patients with a median age of 60 years. Of these, nearly two third (64.78%) of patients were receiving undertreatment for antithrombotic medications. Upon multivariate analysis, history of ischemic stroke/transient ischemic attack (TIA) was associated with lower incidence of antithrombotic undertreatment. A significant increase (HR: 8.194, 95% CI: 2.911-23.066)] in the incidence of ischemic stroke and/or all-cause mortality was observed in patients with undertreatment. Up-on multivariate analysis, only increased age was associated with a statistically significant increase incidence of ischemic stroke and/or all-cause mortality, while only history of ischemic stroke/TIA was associated with a decrease in the risk of ischemic stroke and/or all-cause mortality.
Conclusion: Adherence to antithrombotic guideline recommendations was found to be crucial in reducing the incidence of ischemic stroke and/or all-cause mortality in patients with AF without increasing the risk of bleeding. However, undertreatment to antithrombotic medications was found to be high (64.78%) and was associated with poorer outcomes in terms of ischemic stroke and/or all-cause mortality. Impact on practice: This research highlighted the magnitude of antithrombotic undertreatment and its impact on ischemic stroke and/or all-cause mortality in patients with AF. This article has to alert prescribers to routinely evaluate AF patients' risk for ischemic stroke and provide appropriate interventions based on guideline recommendations.