Warfarin use in hemodialysis patients with atrial fibrillation: decisions based on uncertainty
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BACKGROUND: Warfarin prescribing patterns for hemodialysis patients with atrial fibrillation vary widely amongst nephrologists. This may be due to a paucity of guiding evidence, but also due to concerns of increased risks of warfarin use in this population. The literature lacks clarity on the balance of warfarin therapy between prevention of thrombotic strokes and the increased risks of bleeding in hemodialysis patients with atrial fibrillation. METHODS: We performed a survey of Canadian Nephrologists, assessing warfarin prescribing practice, and measured the certainty in making these choices. RESULTS: Respondents were consistently uncertain about warfarin use for atrial fibrillation. This uncertainty increased with a history of falls or starting hemodialysis, even when a high CHADS2 or CHA2DS2VASc score was present. The majority of respondents agreed that clinical equipoise existed about the use of oral anticoagulation in hemodialysis patients with atrial fibrillation (72.2%) and that the results of a randomized controlled trial would be relevant to their practice (98.2%). CONCLUSIONS: A randomized controlled trial of warfarin use in hemodialysis patients with atrial fibrillation would clarify the risks and benefits of warfarin use in this population.
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