Non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulation agents in anticoagulant naïve atrial fibrillation patients: Danish nationwide descriptive data 2011-2013

Europace. 2015 Feb;17(2):187-93. doi: 10.1093/europace/euu225. Epub 2014 Sep 18.


Aims: Non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulation (NOAC) agents have been approved for stroke prophylaxis in atrial fibrillation (AF). We investigated 'real-world' information on how these drugs are being adopted.

Methods and results: Using Danish nationwide administrative registers, we identified all oral anticoagulation-naïve AF patients initiating oral anticoagulation from 22 August 2011 through 31 October 2013. Using logistic regression analysis, baseline characteristics and temporal utilization trends were compared between initiators of warfarin vs. one of the N OACs: dabigatran, rivaroxaban, or apixaban. We identified 18 611 oral anticoagulation-naïve AF patients of which 9902 (53%) initiated warfarin treatment, 7128 (38%) dabigatran, 1303 (7%) rivaroxaban, and 278 (1%) apixaban. Overall, 40% of newly initiated patients were started on dabigatran within the first 4 months of when the drug came on market. By October, 2013, 40% were being started on warfarin and dabigatran, respectively, and another 20% were started on either rivaroxaban or apixaban. Rivaroxaban and apixaban users generally had a higher predicted risk of stroke and bleeding compared with warfarin and dabigatran users. Older age, female gender, and prior stroke were some of the factors associated with NOAC use vs. warfarin, whereas chronic kidney disease, myocardial infarction, and heart failure showed the opposite association.

Conclusion: Among oral anticoagulation-naïve AF patients initiated on oral anticoagulation in Denmark, warfarin initiation has declined since the introduction of dabigatran in August 2011. Dabigatran is the most frequently used alternative option to warfarin; however, use of rivaroxaban and apixaban is increasing. Patients initiated with rivaroxaban or apixaban in general have a higher predicted stroke and bleeding risks compared with warfarin or dabigatran initiators.

Keywords: Apixaban; Atrial fibrillation; Dabigatran; Oral anticoagulation; Rivaroxaban; Warfarin.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation / drug therapy*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / epidemiology
  • Benzimidazoles / therapeutic use
  • Comorbidity
  • Dabigatran
  • Denmark
  • Female
  • Heart Failure / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Morpholines / therapeutic use
  • Myocardial Infarction / epidemiology
  • Myocardial Ischemia / epidemiology
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pyrazoles / therapeutic use
  • Pyridones / therapeutic use
  • Registries*
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Rivaroxaban
  • Sex Factors
  • Stroke / epidemiology
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Thiophenes / therapeutic use
  • Warfarin / therapeutic use
  • beta-Alanine / analogs & derivatives
  • beta-Alanine / therapeutic use


  • Anticoagulants
  • Benzimidazoles
  • Morpholines
  • Pyrazoles
  • Pyridones
  • Thiophenes
  • beta-Alanine
  • apixaban
  • Warfarin
  • Rivaroxaban
  • Dabigatran