Utilization of anticoagulants and predictors of treatment among hospitalized patients with atrial fibrillation in the USA

J Med Econ. 2020 Dec;23(12):1389-1400. doi: 10.1080/13696998.2020.1832099. Epub 2020 Oct 19.


Objective: To evaluate utilization of anticoagulants (ACs) and the predictors of treatment of patients with a diagnosis of atrial fibrillation (AF) during a hospital stay in the USA.

Methods: Patients (≥18 years of age) who had a primary or secondary discharge diagnosis code of AF during a hospitalization (without a diagnosis of venous thromboembolism) were identified from the Premier Hospital database (1 January 2016-30 September 2017). AC treatments were examined during hospitalizations to assign AF patients into 3 study cohorts: those who received an oral AC (OAC), those who received parenteral AC only, and those who did not receive AC therapy. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were carried out to evaluate potential predictors of receiving parenteral AC only vs. OAC therapy, no AC therapy vs. OAC therapy, as well as the specific OAC drug choices.

Results: Of the patients hospitalized with an AF diagnosis (n = 482,729; mean age: 74.7 years; 46.8% female; 82.9% White; 79.4% with Medicare), 42.6% received OAC therapy (most commonly, warfarin or apixaban), 35.3% parenteral AC only, and 22.2% no AC therapy. A key predictor of not receiving OAC therapy was having an AF diagnosis in the second position (applicable to 87.4% of study population). Greater comorbidity level and prior baseline bleeding were strong predictors of receiving parenteral AC only or not receiving any AC therapy vs. receiving OAC therapy. Predictors of receiving warfarin vs. apixaban included higher stroke risk and prior baseline bleeding.

Limitations: OAC utilization may have been underestimated since outpatient OAC utilization was not included in the analysis.

Conclusions: A substantial portion of hospitalized AF patients did not receive any AC therapy, particularly those patients with an AF diagnosis in the second position on hospital records. The predictors of inpatient AC treatment that were identified may be helpful in the clinical decision-making process for patients who are hospitalized with AF.

Keywords: inpatient OAC utilization; Atrial fibrillation; I00; I19; anticoagulant treatment patterns; hospitalization; predictors of AC treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Aged
  • Anticoagulants / therapeutic use
  • Atrial Fibrillation* / drug therapy
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medicare
  • Risk Factors
  • Stroke* / drug therapy
  • Stroke* / etiology
  • Stroke* / prevention & control
  • United States
  • Warfarin / therapeutic use


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin