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Warfarin fears will blight stroke care

At least a third of GPs are likely to miss targets set by the national service framework for older people because of fears over warfarin prescribing.

A survey of 200 GPs carried out by the charity Anticoagulation Europe revealed 35 per cent only prescribed aspirin for the prevention of atrial fibrillation, a stroke risk factor, rather than referring for warfarin therapy.

Of these, 72 per cent of GPs said they did not prescribe warfarin because of fears over poorly controlled therapy or the risks of bleeding.

The rest said warfarin was not prescribed because of

contraindications.

The Government has told GPs they must be able to identify and treat patients at risk of stroke by April 2004.

Eve Knight, chief executive of Anticoagulation Europe, said: 'While GPs recognise the importance of atrial fibrillation, services to support close monitoring of anticoagulation therapy are overstretched.

'There is a clear need for

localised services and protocols within primary care to help GPs meet targets.'

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