Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a major risk factor for stroke in the elderly population. The use of anticoagulation in patients with AF greatly reduces the risk for stroke, but results in an increased risk of bleeding. Over the past several years, direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, and apixaban) have been used in place of warfarin for stroke prevention in AF. We conducted a retrospective cohort study to assess the safety of DOACs in very elderly patients (75+) managed in a health care system encompassing both community and academic settings. We found that 36 % of patients had moderate to severe renal failure (estimated glomerular filtration rate <59 ml/min/1.73 m2) at the time of DOAC initiation. 142 patients were followed for a mean of 2.56 years, and five experienced a major bleeding episode while on anticoagulation, for a rate of 1.37 per 100 person years. All major bleeding episodes were associated with a decline in GFR compared to baseline. There were 12 non-major bleeding episodes reported. HAS-BLED scores were similar for those patients who experienced bleeding complications compared to those who did not. 21 % of patients were prescribed an inappropriately low dose of DOAC based on approved recommendations. DOACs appear to be a safe form of anticoagulation in very elderly patients with AF. However, the decline in GFR among patients with major bleeding highlights the importance of routine renal function monitoring.
- Atrial fibrillation
- Direct oral anticoagulants