Hospital practice (1995)

Direct thrombin and factor Xa inhibition for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation.

PMID 23466965


Nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common clinically significant cardiac arrhythmia occurring in patients in the United States. The primary clinical consequence of AF is an increase in the risk and severity of strokes. Treatment guidelines recommend anticoagulation therapy for most patients with AF. One risk-stratification scheme, the CHADS2 index, is simple and widely used to determine the management of patients with AF in regard to stroke prevention. However, new schemes, such as CHA2DS2-VASc, further refine risk stratification to identify patients who would obtain a net clinical benefit from a particular management strategy, thus improving the quality of management. For patients with AF for whom oral anticoagulation (OAC) is advisable, vitamin K antagonist (VKA) therapy is well established and effective. However, OAC with VKAs presents challenges to prescribers and patients in maintaining therapeutic efficacy. Novel OACs may offer alternatives to VKAs. Dabigatran etexilate, a direct thrombin inhibitor, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2010 for reducing the risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular AF. The activated factor X (factor Xa) inhibitor rivaroxaban was recently approved by the FDA both for prophylaxis of deep vein thrombosis, which may lead to pulmonary embolism in patients undergoing knee or hip arthroplasty, and for reducing the risk of stroke and systemic embolism in patients with nonvalvular AF. Apixaban, another factor Xa inhibitor, was recently shown to be effective for stroke prevention in patients with nonvalvular AF. This article reviews clinical considerations regarding new agents that may offer alternatives to VKA therapy for the prevention of stroke in patients with AF.

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Factor X Activated (Xa) from bovine plasma, aqueous glycerol solution