More than a quarter of patients with atrial fibrillation who are at low risk of stroke are being ‘inappropriately’ prescribed an oral anticoagulant, a recent audit of UK general practices has claimed.
Researchers ran the computerised GRASP-AF (Guidance on Risk Assessment and Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation) audit tool on electronic records of 11 general practices.
Of the 7.5% of patients with atrial fibrillation who were considered at low risk of stroke, according to the CHA2DS2-VASc score now endorsed by NICE guidelines for atrial fibrillation, 28%were on oral anticoagulants.
Just half of patients at moderate-high risk of stroke were on the recommended treatment of an oral anticoagulant, while about 40% were on an antiplatelet – which is no longer recommended for stroke prevention.
The researchers concluded: ‘Oral anticoagulant therapy in atrial fibrillation remains suboptimal in the UK general practice settings, with suboptimal treatment of high-risk patients and inappropriate oral anticoagulant use in low-risk patients.
‘Aspirin monotherapy use remained excessive in high-risk patients, despite exposing such patients to an increased risk of stroke.’
The findings were presented at a poster session at the annual European Society of Cardiology congress in Barcelona.