Postgraduate medicine

Alternatives to warfarin for stroke prevention in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation: a look back at the state of the field in 2012.

PMID 23816780


Stroke is the most feared complication among patients with atrial fibrillation. Oral anticoagulation therapy with vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) has been the gold standard for stroke prevention for the past 60 years. However, VKA therapy has many downsides, including risk for bleeding, a narrow therapeutic window, and the need for frequent monitoring, as well as numerous diet and lifestyle considerations that make its use cumbersome. Thus, development of new drugs that can preserve the benefits of VKAs while eliminating the negative aspects of VKA therapy has been enthusiastically sought. This article reviews the anticoagulant agents that are clinically available or under development as alternatives to VKAs for stroke prevention in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation.