Mortality in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation Randomized to Edoxaban or Warfarin: Insights from the ENGAGE AF-TIMI 48 Trial


BACKGROUND: When compared with warfarin, edoxaban significantly reduced cardiovascular mortality in the Effective Anticoagulation with Factor Xa Next Generation in Atrial Fibrillation–Thrombolysis in Myocardial Infarction 48 (ENGAGE AF-TIMI 48) trial. We studied the possible reasons leading to this reduction.

METHODS: ENGAGE AF-TIMI 48 was a double-blind, double-dummy comparison of warfarin with 2 regimens of once-daily edoxaban in 21,105 patients with atrial fibrillation followed for 2.8 years (median). Causes of deaths in the intention-to-treat population were classified as cardiovascular (including fatal bleeding and ischemic stroke), malignancy, or noncardiovascular/nonmalignancy by an independent, blinded, clinical endpoint committee. Deaths also were adjudicated as directly due to bleeding (ie, fatal), or bleeding contributing to death, or neither.

RESULTS: There were 839 total deaths (4.35%/y) in the warfarin arm, compared with 773 (3.99%/y, P = .08) with the higher-dose edoxaban regimen, and 737 (3.80%/y, P = .006) with the lower-dose edoxaban regimen. No significant differences between treatments were observed in (1) any of the 3 most common causes of cardiovascular death (sudden cardiac, heart failure, ischemic stroke), (2) fatal malignancies, (3) other noncardiovascular death. There were 124 fatal bleeds, 65 with warfarin, significantly fewer with the higher-dose (n = 35, P = .003) and lower-dose (n = 24, P < .001) edoxaban regimens. There were 101 bleeding events with warfarin that were either fatal or that contributed to death. There were significantly fewer with the higher-dose (n = 59, P = .001) and lower-dose (n = 54, P < .001) edoxaban regimens.

CONCLUSIONS: Fewer total and cardiovascular deaths were observed with edoxaban as compared with warfarin in the ENGAGE AF-TIMI 48 trial, and this predominantly resulted from the significantly lower rate of major bleeding with edoxaban. Edoxaban reduces mortality both directly (less fatal bleeding) and indirectly (fewer bleeding-related complications and interruptions in therapy after nonfatal bleeding).

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Am J Med. 2016 Aug;129(8):850-857.e2.