INTRODUCTION: Most studies on thromboembolic and bleeding risk in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF) exposed to non-vitamin K oral anticoagulants stem from interrogation of insurance databases.
AREA COVERED: We studied 742 consecutive patients with NVAF who started treatment with dabigatran in three hospitals in Italy. Average follow-up was 1.80 years.
Mean age was 76.2 years. CHA2DS2VASc score was 0–1 in 37 (5%), 2 in 97 (13%) and ≥ 3 in 604 (82%) patients. NVAF was permanent in 349 (48%). Overall, 76% of patients remained on treatment over the entire follow-up period. Among 180 patients who discontinued permanently, the most frequent reasons were dyspepsia (33.9%), bleeding (17.8%), and renal worsening (12.1%). About 48% and 74% of permanent discontinuations occurred during the first 6 and 12 months of treatment, respectively. Rates of major events (per 100 patient-years) were 0.75 for stroke, 0.31 for myocardial infarction, 1.50 for all-cause death, and 1.80 for major bleedings. The rate of intracranial bleedings was 0.45 and that of major gastrointestinal bleedings was 0.75.
EXPERT OPINION: This prospective cohort study confirms the low incidence of stroke, major bleeding and intracranial bleeding, and a 76% persistence with treatment, in patients with NVAF treated with dabigatran over about 2 years.