Socioeconomic status and risk of hemorrhage during warfarin therapy for atrial fibrillation: A population-based study

Am Heart J. 2015 Jul;170(1):133-40, 140.e1-3. doi: 10.1016/j.ahj.2015.03.014. Epub 2015 Mar 31.


Background: Among patients taking warfarin, lower socioeconomic status is associated with poorer control of anticoagulation. However, the extent to which socioeconomic status influences the risk of hemorrhage is unknown. We examined the extent to which socioeconomic status influences the risk of hemorrhage in older individuals newly commencing warfarin therapy for atrial fibrillation.

Methods: We conducted a population-based cohort study of individuals 66 years or older with atrial fibrillation who commenced warfarin therapy between April 1, 1997, and November 30th 2011, in Ontario, Canada. We used neighborhood-level income quintiles as a measure of socioeconomic status. The primary outcome was an emergency department visit or hospitalization for hemorrhage, and the secondary outcome was fatal hemorrhage.

Results: We studied 166,742 older patients with atrial fibrillation who commenced warfarin therapy. Of these, 16,371 (9.8%) were hospitalized for hemorrhage during a median follow-up of 369 (interquartile range 102-865) days. After multivariable adjustment using Cox proportional hazards regression, we found that those in the lowest-income quintile faced an increased risk of hospitalization for hemorrhage relative to those in the highest quintile (adjusted hazard ratio 1.18, 95% CI 1.12-1.23). Similarly, the risk of fatal hemorrhage (n = 1,802) was increased in the lowest-income relative to the highest-income quintile (adjusted hazard ratio 1.28, 95% CI 1.11-1.48).

Conclusions: Among older individuals receiving warfarin therapy for atrial fibrillation, lower socioeconomic status is a risk factor for hemorrhage and hemorrhage-related mortality. This factor should be carefully considered when initiating and monitoring warfarin therapy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anticoagulants / adverse effects*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Hemorrhage / chemically induced*
  • Hemorrhage / mortality
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Income / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Ontario
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Class*
  • Stroke / etiology
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Warfarin / adverse effects*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin