Chances are you didn’t know that more than 75 percent of patients with atrial fibrillation are given aspirin instead of anticoagulants, according to a U.S. study.
Researchers observed and analyzed data on over 500,000 people with atrial fibrillation and found that about 40 percent were given aspirin instead of prescriptions for anticoagulants.
The lead study author Dr. Jonathan Hsu, a heart specialist at the University of California, San Diego, explained that blood thinners are shown to be more effective than aspirin in preventing stroke for patients with atrial fibrillation.
“By prescribing aspirin, we may be fooling ourselves that the patient may be protected from stroke,” Hsu stated.
Hsu and his colleagues examined medical and prescription data gathered from 2008 to 2012 in a national registry of people with cardiovascular disease.
The first group had about 210,000 people in the study who were at least 75-years-old and had other stroke factors such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, or high blood pressure. Approximately 38 percent of the patients were given aspirin and about 62 percent were prescribed anticoagulants.
The second group had about 295,000 people between the ages of 65 and 74-years-old. Among these atrial fibrillation patients, 40 percent were given aspirin and 60 percent received anticoagulants.
For the two groups, patients given aspirin were younger, mildly less overweight, and more likely to be female or have other medical problems such as diabetes, hypertension, or a prior heart attack, researches stated June 20 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, online.
The limited use of anticoagulants may contribute to the possibility of side effects.
However there are limitations of the study that researchers found; blood thinner prescriptions were assed at initial doctor visits, and researchers didn’t see whether people ended or started medication based on follow-up exams.
There are a large variety of reasons why doctors might prescribe aspirin when blood thinners are actually the recommended treatment.
Some researchers and doctors say “lack of knowledge, patient compliance, and cost” may all explain failure to give effective treatment.
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