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Keywords:

  • atrial fibrillation;
  • guidelines;
  • prevention;
  • risk factors;
  • stroke

Abstract

Although warfarin is superior to aspirin in reducing the risk of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation, it can increase major bleeds. Hence, physicians stratify patients according to stroke risk to ensure a net benefit. In this review, the CHA2DS2-VASc stratification scheme used in the latest European Society of Cardiology (2010/12) guidelines will be explained. The greater sensitivity of this scheme, compared to the previous CHADS2, more closely delineates patients for whom warfarin is appropriate. The review also anticipates that there will be a wider range of patients who may benefit from the new oral anticoagulants, which show similar or superior efficacy and/or safety to warfarin with a significant reduction in intracranial haemorrhage and do not require routine coagulation monitoring. The role of conventional and new anticoagulant options will also be discussed.