Randomized controlled trials of new oral anticoagulants for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation
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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: The prevalence of atrial fibrillation is increasing because of an aging population. Vitamin K antagonists have been the standard therapy for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation but are underutilized and often poorly managed because of their inherent limitations. This study critically reviews the recently completed phase 3 randomized controlled trials of new oral anticoagulants (OACs) for stroke prevention in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation: RE-LY (dabigatran), AVERROES (apixaban), ARISTOTLE (apixaban) and ROCKET-AF (rivaroxaban). RECENT FINDINGS: On the basis of their favorable pharmacological characteristics and excellent efficacy and safety profile as demonstrated by the results of the randomized controlled trials, the new OACs have the potential to replace vitamin K antagonists as the first-line treatment for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation, with warfarin reserved for patients with contraindications to the new OACs and those unable to afford them. SUMMARY: The new OACs represent a major advance for patients with atrial fibrillation with the potential to reduce morbidity and mortality due to cardioembolic stroke.
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