A study published in the Journal of American Geriatrics Society reported that female patients with atrial fibrillation are less likely to receive anticoagulant therapy to prevent stroke than their male counterparts. 

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine reviewed therapies for 1,585 patients with atrial fibrillation. Each patient’s doctor tested a computerized decision support tool that used patient data to help physicians and patients decide on a anticoagulant therapy to prevent stroke. All study patients were part of the UC Health primary care network. 

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The Atrial Fibrillation Decision Support Tool (AFDST) is an analytic model that extracts patient data and calculates the individual’s risk for atrial fibrillation-related stroke and major bleeding while taking anticoagulant therapy. The AFDST then recommends the best treatment to prevent atrial fibrillation-related stroke. 

Study data revealed about 45% of female atrial fibrillation patients (n=326/725) were receiving potentially non-optimal treatment to prevent atrial fibrillation-related stroke whereas only 39% of male atrial fibrillation patients (n=338/860) were receiving non-optimal therapy (ie, different regimen than that suggested by AFDST). 

Mark Eckman, MD, lead author, stated, “The irony is that women have a higher risk of atrial fibrillation [AF]-related stroke, controlling for other risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, congestive heart failure, yet women are being under treated.” Dr. Eckman added that when making decisions for anticoagulant therapy in patients with atrial fibrillation, clinicians must remember that women have a higher risk and need to be treated aggressively enough to prevent related stroke. 

For more information visit healthnews.uc.edu.