Clinical Question: Which oral anticoagulants are safest and most effective in nonvalvular atrial fibrillation?
Background: Use of direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) has been increasing since their introduction and widespread marketing. While dosing is a challenge for warfarin, certain medical conditions limit the use of DOACs. Choosing the optimal oral anticoagulant is challenging with the increasing complexity of patients.
Study Design: Nationwide observational cohort study.
Setting: Three national Danish databases, from August 2011 to October 2015.
Synopsis: Authors reviewed data from 61,678 patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation who were new to oral anticoagulants. The study compared the efficacy, safety, and patient characteristics of DOACs and warfarin. Ischemic stroke, systemic embolism, and death were evaluated separately and as a composite measure of efficacy. Any bleeding, intracranial bleeding, and major bleeding were measured as safety outcomes. DOACs patients were younger and had lower CHA2DS2-VASc and HAS-BLED scores. No significant difference in risk of ischemic stroke was identified between DOACs and warfarin. Rivaroxaban was associated with lower rates of ischemic stroke and systemic embolism but had bleeding rates that were similar to warfarin. Any bleeding and major bleeding rates were lowest for dabigatran and apixaban. All-cause mortality was lowest in the dabigatran group and highest in the warfarin group.
Limitations were the retrospective, observational study design, with an average follow-up of only 1.9 years.
Bottom Line: All DOACs appear to be safer and more effective alternatives to warfarin. Oral anticoagulant selection needs to be based on individual patient clinical profile.
Citation: Larsen TB, Skjoth F, Nielsen PB, Kjaeldgaard JN, Lip GY. Comparative effectiveness and safety of non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants and warfarin in patients with atrial fibrillation: propensity weighted nationwide cohort study. BMJ. 2016;353:i3189.
Mortality and Long-Acting Opiates
This retrospective cohort study raises questions about the safety of long-acting opioids for chronic noncancer pain. When compared with anticonvulsants or antidepressants, the adjusted hazard ratio was 1.64 for total mortality.
Citation: Ray W, Chung CP, Murray KT, Hall K, Stein CM. Prescription of long-acting opioids and mortality in patients with chronic noncancer pain. JAMA. 2016;315(22):2415-2423.