Anticoagulation in atrial fibrillation: impact of mental illness

Am J Manag Care. 2015 Nov 1;21(11):e609-17.


Objectives: To characterize warfarin eligibility and receipt among Veterans Health Administration (VHA) patients with and without mental health conditions (MHCs).

Study design: Retrospective cohort study.

Methods: This observational study identified VHA atrial fibrillation (AF) patients with and without MHCs in 2004. We examined unadjusted MHC-related differences in warfarin eligibility and warfarin receipt among warfarin-eligible patients, using logistic regression for any MHC and for specific MHCs (adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical characteristics).

Results: Of 125,670 patients with AF, most (96.8%) were warfarin-eligible based on a CHADS2 stroke risk score. High stroke risk and contraindications to anticoagulation were both more common in patients with MHC. Warfarin-eligible patients with MHC were less likely to receive warfarin than those without MHC (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 0.90; 95% CI, 0.87-0.94). The association between MHC and warfarin receipt among warfarin-eligible patients varied by specific MHC. Patients with anxiety disorders (AOR, 0.86; 95% CI, 0.80-0.93), psychotic disorders (AOR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.65-0.90), and alcohol use disorders (AOR 0.62, 95% CI 0.54-0.72) were less likely to receive warfarin than patients without these conditions, whereas patients with depressive disorders and posttraumatic stress disorder were no less likely to receive warfarin than patients without these conditions.

Conclusions: Compared with patients with AF without MHCs, those with MHCs are less likely to be eligible for warfarin receipt and, among those eligible, are less likely to receive such treatment. Although patients with AF with MHC need careful assessment of bleeding risk, this finding suggests potential missed opportunities for more intensive therapy among some individuals with MHCs.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alcoholism / complications
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use*
  • Anxiety Disorders / complications
  • Atrial Fibrillation / complications*
  • Depressive Disorder / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications*
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotic Disorders / complications
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / complications
  • Warfarin / therapeutic use*


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin