Aims: To describe guideline adherence and application of different stroke risk stratification schemes regarding antithrombotic therapy in real-life atrial fibrillation (AF) patients and to assess which factors influence antithrombotic management decisions.
Methods and results: The Euro Heart Survey enrolled 5333 AF patients in 35 countries, in 2003 and 2004. Prescription of antithrombotic drugs, especially oral anticoagulation (OAC), was hardly tailored to the patient's stroke risk profile as indicated by the joint guidelines of the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and the European Society of Cardiology, ACCP guidelines, or CHADS(2) and Framingham risk scores. In multivariable analysis, only a limited number of the well-known stroke risk factors triggered OAC prescription. In contrast, less relevant factors, of which clinical type of AF and availability of an OAC monitoring outpatient clinic were the most marked, played a significant role in OAC prescription. Electrical cardioversions and catheter ablations clearly triggered OAC prescription, whereas pharmacological cardioversions even in the presence of stroke risk factors did not.
Conclusion: Antithrombotic therapy in AF is hardly tailored to the patient's stroke risk profile. Factors other than well-known stroke risk factors were significantly involved in antithrombotic management decisions. To facilitate this tailored treatment, guideline writers and physician educators should focus on providing one uniform and easy to use stroke risk stratification scheme.