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Anticoagulant often not needed

A quarter of patients with atrial fibrillation need not take anticoagulants to cut their stroke risk if they are already on aspirin, a new study reveals.

Researchers in Canada looked at 2,501 atrial fibrillation sufferers treated with aspirin during participation in six clinical trials.

Some 24 per cent of them, including 16 per cent of those aged over 75, were categorised as low stroke-risk.

They were patients without previous stroke or transient ischemic attack, with treated hypertension or systolic blood pressure equal to or exceeding 140mmHg, and who were free from symptomatic coronary artery disease or diabetes.

Over a 100 patient-year period, low-risk patients experienced 1.1 cerebrovascular events compared with 1.2 in age- and sex-matched controls from the Framingham Heart Study.

But low-risk patients randomised to oral anticoagulant therapy in addition to aspirin experienced 1.5 events during the same period, said a

report in Archives of Internal Medicine (April 24).

The average stroke or TIA rate among all patients in the study was 3.5 events per 100 patients years.

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