Racial/Ethnic Disparities in Atrial Fibrillation Treatment and Outcomes among Dialysis Patients in the United States

J Am Soc Nephrol. 2020 Mar;31(3):637-649. doi: 10.1681/ASN.2019050543. Epub 2020 Feb 20.


Background: Because stroke prevention is a major goal in the management of ESKD hemodialysis patients with atrial fibrillation, investigating racial/ethnic disparities in stroke among such patients is important to those who could benefit from strategies to maximize preventive measures.

Methods: We used the United States Renal Data System to identify ESKD patients who initiated hemodialysis from 2006 to 2013 and then identified those with a subsequent atrial fibrillation diagnosis and Medicare Part A/B/D. Patients were followed for 1 year for all-cause stroke, mortality, prescription medications, and cardiovascular disease procedures. The survival mediational g-formula quantified the percentage of excess strokes attributable to lower use of atrial fibrillation treatments by race/ethnicity.

Results: The study included 56,587 ESKD hemodialysis patients with atrial fibrillation. Black, white, Hispanic, and Asian patients accounted for 19%, 69%, 8%, and 3% of the population, respectively. Compared with white patients, black, Hispanic, or Asian patients were more likely to experience stroke (13%, 15%, and 16%, respectively) but less likely to fill a warfarin prescription (10%, 17%, and 28%, respectively). Warfarin prescription was associated with decreased stroke rates. Analyses suggested that equalizing the warfarin distribution to that in the white population would prevent 7%, 10%, and 12% of excess strokes among black, Hispanic, and Asian patients, respectively. We found no racial/ethnic disparities in all-cause mortality or use of cardiovascular disease procedures.

Conclusions: Racial/ethnic disparities in all-cause stroke among hemodialysis patients with atrial fibrillation are partially mediated by lower use of anticoagulants among black, Hispanic, and Asian patients. The reasons for these disparities are unknown, but strategies to maximize stroke prevention in minority hemodialysis populations should be further investigated.

Keywords: cardiovascular disease; dialysis; hemodialysis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents / administration & dosage
  • Anticoagulants / administration & dosage
  • Atrial Fibrillation / drug therapy*
  • Atrial Fibrillation / etiology
  • Atrial Fibrillation / physiopathology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Databases, Factual
  • Ethnicity / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Healthcare Disparities / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / diagnosis
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / epidemiology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy*
  • Male
  • Medicare / statistics & numerical data
  • Racism
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects*
  • Renal Dialysis / methods
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Stroke / prevention & control*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • United States


  • Anti-Arrhythmia Agents
  • Anticoagulants