Improvement in use of anticoagulation therapy in patients with ischemic stroke: results from Get With The Guidelines-Stroke

Am Heart J. 2011 Oct;162(4):692-699.e2. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2011.07.019. Epub 2011 Sep 15.


Background: Anticoagulation therapy reduces thromboembolic events in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and has a class I indication for ischemic stroke patients with AF and no contraindications. We determined the patient and hospital level characteristics associated with an increased use of anticoagulation, including participation in the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke (GWTG-Stroke) Program.

Methods: We assessed the use of anticoagulation at hospital discharge in eligible AF patients with stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) at 1,354 participating hospitals between April 1, 2003, and April 1, 2010.

Results: Patients with AF (n = 197,778) represented 20.5% of patients with ischemic stroke/TIA. Among patients with AF, 47.6% (n = 94,119) were deemed eligible for anticoagulation, and of these, 94.0% were discharged on therapy. Older patients, African American or Hispanic patients, and those with diabetes were less likely to receive anticoagulation. Hospitals with a higher volume of patients with stroke were more likely to treat with anticoagulation. The Joint Commission Primary Stroke Centers were also more likely to treat eligible patients (odds ratio 2.16, 95% CI 1.82-2.56, P < .0001). From 2003 to 2010, contraindications to anticoagulation therapy declined from 69.7% to 28.4% (P < .0001 for trend). Anticoagulation among eligible patients improved from 88.4% to 95.2% (P < .0001) for 7 years of participation. Time in GWTG-Stroke was associated with improved anticoagulation use (adjusted odds ratio per year in program, 1.11, 95% CI 1.06-1.16, P < .001).

Conclusions: Use of anticoagulation among stroke patients with AF has increased to very high levels overall in GWTG-Stroke over time. Future efforts should focus on improving use among selected populations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / etiology*
  • Ischemic Attack, Transient / prevention & control*
  • Male
  • Stroke / etiology*
  • Stroke / prevention & control*


  • Anticoagulants