Clinical practice guidelines advise patients with atrial fibrillation who are at risk for stroke to undergo thromboprophylaxis with oral anticoagulants. However, it is noted that guidelines are not always followed. We sought to learn how Saudi Arabian general practitioners (GPs) self-reported using risk assessment tools and atrial fibrillation clinical practice guidelines created by cardiology associations, as well as how GPs felt about the resources that were available. Through the use of a self-administered questionnaire, we carried out a cross-sectional survey. A total of two-hundred GPs participated in the study. The guidelines were frequently used when a clinical decision regarding anticoagulation therapy appeared difficult (n = 57, 28.4%). The most predominant strengths of participants' chosen clinical guidelines were clear recommendations (n = 56, 27.9%), easy-to-follow algorithms (n = 39, 16.9%), detailed recommendations supported by evidence (n = 34, 16.9%), and online availability (n = 27, 13.4%). Many respondents said they used a formal stroke risk assessment tool in addition to their clinical judgment as a GP for most decisions (60%). Most respondents preferred using the CHA2DS2-VASc (n = 106, 52.7%), CHA2DS2-VA (n = 45, 22.4%), CHADS2 (n = 35, 17.4%), and GARFIELD (n = 14, 7.0%). HAS-BLED (n = 100, 49.8%) and HEMORR2HAGES (n = 50, 24.9%) were the most frequently utilized formal tools for assessing the risk of bleeding among GPs. Over half of the participants referred to guidelines when deciding thromboprophylaxis in patients with atrial fibrillation. Additionally, many respondents used formal procedures for assessing the risks of bleeding and stroke in addition to their clinical judgement in their roles as GPs. The guideline was assessed as being extremely helpful overall by GPs who used it to make thromboprophylaxis decisions.
Keywords: atrial fibrillation; oral anticoagulants; stroke; thromboprophylaxis.