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Keywords:

  • anticoagulants;
  • atrial fibrillation;
  • epidemiology;
  • stroke

Abstract.

Objectives.  Anticoagulation therapy is recommended in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and risk factors for stroke. We studied the temporal trends in the prescription of vitamin K antagonists (VKA) in patients with a first hospital diagnosis of AF in Denmark, 1995–2002.

Design.  The Danish National Hospital Registry was used to identify subjects with a first hospital diagnosis of AF and the Danish Register of Medical Products Statistics to determine the proportion of these patients who claimed a prescription of VKA within 3 months from discharge.

Results.  Amongst 68 546 patients aged 50–99 years with a diagnosis of AF who survived 3 months following discharge, 24 991 (36%) patients claimed a prescription of VKA within 3 months. In both men and women a gradual increase in the use of VKA with time was observed, the relative increase being largest amongst the 80- to 99-year olds. In all age groups, the prescription of VKA was lower in women than in men, including patients with a prior or concurrent stroke.

Conclusions.  From 1995 to 2002 the proportion of AF patients receiving VKA therapy increased significantly but the use of VKA therapy amongst women was lagging behind that of men. Even in patients with AF and prior stroke, the use of VKA seems to be less than optimal.