Nearly three million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, stroke, heart failure and other heart-related complications. Blood thinners, also called anticoagulants, help prevent blood from clotting and potentially causing stroke.
Increasing the number of women with atrial fibrillation recommended for treatment with blood thinners is a revision to 2014 guidelines issued by the American Heart Association, American College of Cardiology and Heart Rhythm Society. The guidelines also lower the age at which all people are considered at risk for stroke from 75 to 65.
“The guideline change is significant because it could potentially reclassify almost one million people with atrial fibrillation who are recommended for anticoagulation therapy,” said Emily O’Brien, PhD, who led the Duke research that resulted in the guideline recommendation. This means more people could be treated with blood thinners than ever before.
O’Brien’s group analyzed data from a large population of men and women for stroke risk and the use of anticoagulants. Their findings were published in JAMA-Internal Medicine.