HealthDay News — Half of patients hospitalized with atrial fibrillation aren’t receiving oral anticoagulants (OACs), according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association, held from November 12 to 16 in New Orleans.

Sean Pokorney, MD, MBA, an electrophysiology fellow at the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, N.C., and colleagues analyzed 1,579,456 admissions for atrial fibrillation at 812 hospitals across the United States over five years. The patients in the study were 40 and older, stayed in the hospital for at least one day, and had a stroke risk score of 2 or higher. 

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The team found that only 46% of patients received OACs at discharge. The researchers said possible reasons for the low use of OACs in these patients include: poor understanding about the condition and the risk of stroke; concerns about using the drugs in these patients; and the belief among health care providers and systems that use of the drugs is an outpatient, rather than an inpatient, issue.

“This low rate of OAC use in hospitalized patients highlights an important opportunity to improve care in atrial fibrillation patients,” Pokorney said in a Duke news release.

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