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Half of AF patients not being treated

Nearly half of patients with atrial fibrillation are still not receiving treatment, with women particularly likely to miss out, a study concludes.

The research suggested GPs faced substantial work to meet new QOF targets on the disease, although the proportion of patients treated has increased sharply in the last decade.

The study of 131 general practices found the proportion of men treated rose from 25 to 53 per cent. Treatment of women increased from 21 to 40 per cent.

Study leader Professor Derek Cook, professor of epidemiology at St George's, University of London, said: 'The issue of women being less likely to receive anticoagulation is a concern.

'It may be that there will be more careful use of risk scoring ­ it may improve the treatment levels in women.'

Dr Stewart Findlay, treasurer of the Primary Care Cardiovascular Society and a GP in Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, said the undertreatment of patients with anticoagulation was a result of a lack of 'emphasis' on stroke risk.

'People have been wary of anticoagulation ­ but there's every reason to expect that when atrial fibrillation is added into the QOF results will improve.'

The study, published early online in Heart, analysed trends in diagnosis of AF, treatment with anticoagulation, and factors affecting treatment from 1994 to 2003.

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