Oral anticoagulant treatment in rheumatoid arthritis patients with atrial fibrillation results of an international audit

Int J Cardiol Heart Vasc. 2022 Sep 12:42:101117. doi: 10.1016/j.ijcha.2022.101117. eCollection 2022 Oct.


Objective: To describe the prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), and to evaluate the proportion of patients with AF receiving guideline-recommended anticoagulation for prevention of stroke, based on data from a large international audit.

Methods: The cohort was derived from the international audit SUrvey of cardiovascular disease Risk Factors in patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis (SURF-RA) which collected data from 17 countries during 2014-2019. We evaluated the prevalence of AF across world regions and explored factors associated with the presence of AF with multivariable logistic regression models. The proportion of AF patients at high risk of stroke (CHA2DS2-VASc ≥ 2 in males and ≥ 3 in females) receiving anticoagulation was examined.

Results: Of the total SURF-RA cohort (n = 14,503), we included RA cases with data on whether the diagnosis of AF was present or not (n = 7,665, 75.1% women, mean (SD) age 58.7 (14.1) years). A total of 288 (3.8%) patients had a history of AF (4.4% in North America, 3.4% in Western Europe, 2.8% in Central and Eastern Europe and 1.5% in Asia). Factors associated with the presence of AF were older age, male sex, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, heart failure and hypertension. Two-hundred and fifty-five (88.5%) RA patients had a CHA2DS2-VASc score indicating recommendation for oral anticoagulant treatment, and of them, 164 (64.3%) were anticoagulated.

Conclusion: Guideline-recommended anticoagulant therapy for prevention of stroke due to AF may not be optimally implemented among RA patients, and requires special attention.

Keywords: Anticoagulation; Atrial fibrillation; Pharmacotherapy; Rheumatoid arthritis.