Objectives: This study assessed the risk of thrombo embolic events and bleeding complications among atrial fibrillation patients.
Methods: A cohort of patients with chronic non-valvular atrial fibrillation were identified from medical claims (diagnosis codes 427.31 and 427.32). Subjects were identified from 1 January 1998-31 December 2000 and were continuously enrolled for 6 months prior to the first occurring atrial fibrillation medical claim. Cox proportional hazards analysis with time varying covariates was used for the event analysis.
Results: Of 6764 subjects retained for analysis, 3541 (52.4%) were exposed to warfarin. Adjusting for baseline characteristics, warfarin exposure was associated with lower likelihood of an arterial thromboembolic event compared to no exposure (HR: 0.710, CI: 0.540-0.934). No benefit was found in the use of warfarin in the prevention of intracranial events (HR: 1.119, CI: 0.929-1.349). Use of warfarin increased the risk of minor bleeding events (HR: 3.600, CI: 2.537-5.109), and all bleeding events (HR: 1.502, CI: 1.289-1.749).
Conclusions: The risk of arterial thromboembolic events was associated with warfarin exposure as expected. An increase in the risk of minor and total bleeding events among patients treated with warfarin was observed. The results of this study suggest that there may be a gap between the clinical trial and coagulation clinic performance of warfarin in reducing the risk of thromboembolic events versus what is achievable in general practice.