Trends in Oral Anticoagulant Use Among 436 864 Patients With Atrial Fibrillation in Community Practice, 2011 to 2020

J Am Heart Assoc. 2022 Nov 15;11(22):e026723. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.122.026723. Epub 2022 Nov 8.


Background Among patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AF) and an elevated stroke risk, guidelines recommend direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) over warfarin for stroke prevention. Changes in DOAC use over the past decade have not been well described. Methods and Results We evaluated trends in use of DOACs and warfarin from 2011 to 2020 among adults with AF and a CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2 based on electronic health record data from 88 health systems in the United States contributing to Cerner Real World Data. The use of DOACs and warfarin was described over time, by age, sex, race, and ethnicity, and at the health-system level. We identified 436 864 patients with AF at risk for stroke (median age, 78 years; 52.1% men). From 2011 to 2020, overall anticoagulation rates increased from 56.3% to 64.7%, as DOAC use increased steadily (from 4.7% to 47.9%), while warfarin use declined (from 52.4% to 17.7%). DOAC uptake was similar across age, sex, and race and ethnicity groups but varied by health system. In 2020, the median health-system-level proportion of patients with AF on a DOAC was 49% (interquartile range, 40%-54%). Conclusions Over the past decade, anticoagulation rates for patients with AF have increased modestly as DOACs largely replaced warfarin, though significant gaps remain: One in 3 high-risk patients with AF is not on any anticoagulant. While DOAC adoption was generally consistent across major demographic groups, use between health systems remained highly variable, suggesting that provider and system factors influence DOAC uptake use more than patient-level factors.

Keywords: atrial fibrillation; direct oral anticoagulant; quality of care; stroke prevention.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

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


  • Anticoagulants
  • Warfarin