BACKGROUND: Comparative data of non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOAC) are lacking in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).
OBJECTIVE: We compared effectiveness and safety of standard and reduced dose NOAC in AF patients.
METHODS: Using Danish nationwide registries, we included all oral anticoagulant-naïve AF patients who initiated NOAC treatment (2012–2016). Outcome-specific and mortality-specific multiple Cox regressions were combined to compute average treatment effects as 1-year standardized differences in stroke and bleeding risks (g-formula).
RESULTS: Amongst 31 522 AF patients, the distribution of NOAC/dose was as follows: dabigatran standard dose (22.4%), dabigatran-reduced dose (14.0%), rivaroxaban standard dose (21.8%), rivaroxaban reduced dose (6.7%), apixaban standard dose (22.9%), and apixaban reduced dose (12.2%). The 1-year standardized absolute risks of stroke/thromboembolism were 1.73–1.98% and 2.51–2.78% with standard and reduced NOAC dose, respectively, without statistically significant differences between NOACs for given dose level. Comparing standard doses, the 1-year standardized absolute risk (95% CI) for major bleeding was for rivaroxaban 2.78% (2.42–3.17%); corresponding absolute risk differences (95% CI) were for dabigatran −0.93% (−1.45% to −0.38%) and apixaban, −0.54% (−0.99% to −0.05%). The results for major bleeding were similar for reduced NOAC dose. The 1-year standardized absolute risk (95% CI) for intracranial bleeding was for standard dose dabigatran 0.19% (0.22–0.50%); corresponding absolute risk differences (95% CI) were for rivaroxaban 0.23% (0.06–0.41%) and apixaban, 0.18% (0.01–0.34%).
CONCLUSIONS: Standard and reduced dose NOACs, respectively, showed no significant risk difference for associated stroke/thromboembolism. Rivaroxaban was associated with higher bleeding risk compared with dabigatran and apixaban and dabigatran was associated with lower intracranial bleeding risk compared with rivaroxaban and apixaban.