Aims: Vitamin K antagonists (VKA) are currently the most frequently used drug to prevent ischaemic stroke in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients. However, VKA use has been associated with increased vascular calcification. The aim of this study was to investigate the contribution of VKA use to coronary artery calcification in low-risk AF patients.
Methods and results: A prospective coronary calcium scan was performed in 157 AF patients without significant cardiovascular disease (108 males; mean age 57 ± 9 years). A total of 71 (45%) patients were chronic VKA users. The duration of VKA treatment varied between 6 and 143 months (mean 46 months). No significant differences in clinical characteristics were found between patients on VKA treatment and non-anticoagulated patients. However, median coronary artery calcium scores differed significantly between patients without and patients with VKA treatment [0, inter-quartile range (IQR) 0-40, vs. 29, IQR 0-184; P = 0.001]. Mean coronary calcium scores increased with the duration of VKA use (no VKA: 53 ± 115, 6-60 months on VKA: 90 ± 167, and >60 months on VKA: 236 ± 278; P < 0.001). Multivariable logistic regression analysis revealed that age and VKA treatment were significantly related to increased coronary calcium score.
Conclusion: Patients using VKA show increased levels of coronary calcification. Age and VKA treatment were independently related to increased coronary calcium score.