The emergence of new anticoagulation medications to treat nonvalvular atrial fibrillation and reduce stroke risk has been mostly welcomed by the medical community. But identifying patients who will receive the most benefit from a particular drug remains a challenge, and wider use may be limited until bleeding risks and other concerns associated with the drugs are better understood.
The prevalence of atrial fibrillation, which can cause blood clotting, continues to increase in the United States, with 1 in 4 individuals now being projected to develop the condition in his or her lifetime. Patients with atrial fibrillation have 5 times greater risk of stroke and are estimated to constitute 15% of all stroke victims and 30% of those whose strokes occur after age 80 years.
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Patient selection and risk benefit analysis are keys for determining which anticoagulation medications physicians should prescribe to reduce stroke risk from atrial fibrillation.
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