IMPORTANCE: Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and is associated with a 5-fold increase in the risk for stroke. Type 2 diabetes is an independent risk factor for both stroke and atrial fibrillation, and in the setting of AF, type 2 diabetes is independently associated with a 2% to 3.5% increase in absolute stroke rate per year. The overlap in the pathophysiologies of AF and type 2 diabetes are not well understood, and current practice guidelines provide few recommendations regarding patients with both conditions.
OBSERVATIONS:In this article, we review the epidemiology and pathophysiology of the nexus of AF and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, we analyze the subgroup of patients with type 2 diabetes enrolled in phase 3 clinical trials of non–vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants in prevention of arterial thromboembolism in AF, highlighting the greater absolute benefit of non–vitamin K oral anticoagulants in patients with type 2 diabetes. Finally, we offer recommendations on risk stratification and therapy for patients with concomitant AF and type 2 diabetes.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE: We highlight the increased thromboembolic risk with coexisting AF and type 2 diabetes. We recommend that further studies be done to evaluate the potential benefits of anticoagulation for all patients who have both and the potential for non–vitamin K oral anticoagulants to have greater benefits than risks over vitamin K antagonists.