BACKGROUND: Guidelines recommend long-term oral anticoagulation therapy for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). Treatment discontinuation rates in vitamin K antagonist (VKA)-treated patients are high but may be lower with non-VKA oral anticoagulant agents.
OBJECTIVES: The goal of this study was to describe and explore predictors of dabigatran etexilate persistence in patients with newly diagnosed AF over 2 years of follow-up.
METHODS: Consecutive patients newly diagnosed with AF and ≥1 stroke risk factor were followed up for 2 years. Dabigatran nonpersistence was defined as discontinuation of dabigatran for >30 days. A multivariable Cox regression model included region as well as patient clinical and sociodemographic characteristics to explore predictors of nonpersistence.
RESULTS: Eligible patients (N = 2,932) took ≥1 dabigatran dose; their mean age was 70.3 ± 10.2 years, and 55.3% were male. The 2-year probability of dabigatran persistence was 69.2%. Approximately 7% switched to a factor Xa inhibitor and 6% to a VKA. Approximately one-third of dabigatran discontinuations were primarily due to serious or nonserious adverse events. Patients from North America had the highest discontinuation risk, and Latin America had the lowest. Minimally symptomatic or asymptomatic AF and permanent AF were associated with a lower risk for dabigatran nonpersistence. Previous proton pump inhibitor use was associated with a higher risk for dabigatran nonpersistence.
CONCLUSIONS: Probability of treatment persistence with dabigatran after 2 years was approximately 70%. Nearly one-half of the patients who stopped dabigatran switched to another oral anticoagulant agent. Patients from North America, and those with paroxysmal, persistent, or symptomatic AF, may be at a higher risk for discontinuing dabigatran.