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Summary. Background: Oral anticoagulation (OAC) in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) is a double-edged sword, because it decreases the risk of stroke at the cost of an increased risk of bleeding. We compared the performance of a new bleeding prediction scheme, HAS-BLED, with an older bleeding prediction scheme, HEMORR2HAGES, in a cohort of ‘real-world’ AF patients. Methods: By individual-level-linkage of nationwide registers, we identified all patients (n = 118 584) discharged with non-valvular AF in Denmark during the period 1997–2006, with and without OAC. Major bleeding rates during 1 year of follow-up were determined, and the predictive capabilities of the two schemes were compared by c-statistics. The risk of bleeding associated with individual risk factors composing HAS-BLED was estimated using Cox proportional-hazard analyses. Results: Of AF patients receiving OAC (n = 44 771), 34.8% and 47.3% were categorized as ‘low bleeding risk’ by HAS-BLED and HEMORR2HAGES, respectively, and the bleeding rates per 100 person-years were 2.66 (95% confidence interval [CI], 2.40–2.94) and 3.06 (2.83–3.32), respectively. C-statistics for the two schemes were 0.795 (0.759–0.829) and 0.771 (0.733–0.806), respectively. The risk factors composing HAS-BLED were associated with varying risks, with a history of bleeding (hazard ratio [HR] 2.98; 95% CI 2.68–3.31) and being elderly (HR 1.93; 95% CI 1.71–2.18) being associated with the highest risks. Comparable results were found in AF patients not receiving OAC (n = 77 813). Conclusions: In an unselected nationwide cohort of hospitalized patients with atrial fibrillation, the HAS-BLED score performs similarly to HEMORR2HAGES in predicting bleeding risk but HAS-BLED is much simpler and easier to use in everyday clinical practise.