Advancing age and bleeding risk are the strongest barriers to anticoagulant prescription in atrial fibrillation

Nicoletta Riva, Danielle E. Smith, Gregory Y.H. Lip, Deirdre A. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In clinical practice many patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) at high thromboembolic risk fail to receive adequate oral anticoagulation (OAC) [1]. The complex management of anticoagulant therapy [frequent international normalised ratio (INR) monitoring because of narrow therapeutic window, interaction with food and alcohol, concomitant medications and comorbities], the overestimation of bleeding risk and the underestimation of stroke risk, may partially explain physicians' reluctance to prescribe anticoagulation.
In the current issue of Age and Ageing, Pugh and Mead [2] report a systematic review on physicians' attitudes concerning anticoagulant treatment among AF patients. Through surveys (questionnaire, clinical vignette and interview) on hypothetical case scenarios, they have identified the barriers to effective anticoagulant prescription, as follows: increasing age, bleeding risk or previous bleeding, fall risk, co-morbidities (e.g. chronic alcoholism or cognitive impairment) and lack of compliance. In particular, advanced age has been reported as the most striking reason for with-holding anticoagulation, while risk of falls and previous bleeding are also disproportionate barriers to warfarin prescription.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberafr128
Pages (from-to)653-655
Number of pages3
JournalAge and Ageing
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 27 Sept 2011


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