Atrial fibrillation (AF) is a significant risk factor for avoidable stroke. Among high-risk patients with AF, stroke risk can be mitigated using oral anticoagulants (OACs), however reduction is largely contingent on physician prescription and patient persistence with OAC therapy. Over the past decade significant advances have occurred, with revisions to clinical practice guidelines relating to management of stroke risk in AF in several countries, and the introduction of non-vitamin K antagonist OACs (NOACs). This paper summarises the evolving body of research examining guideline-based clinician prescription over the past decade, and patient-level factors associated with OAC persistence. The review shows clinicians' management over the past decade has increasingly reflected guideline recommendations, with an increasing proportion of high-risk patients receiving OACs, driven by an upswing in NOACs. However, a treatment gap remains, as 25–35% of high-risk patients still do not receive OAC treatment, with great variation between countries. Reduction in stroke risk directly relates to level of OAC prescription and therapy persistence. Persistence and adherence to OAC thromboprophylaxis remains an ongoing issue, with 2-year persistence as low as 50%, again with wide variation between countries and practice settings. Multiple patient-level factors contribute to poor persistence, in addition to concerns about bleeding. Considered review of individual patient's factors and circumstances will assist clinicians to implement appropriate strategies to address poor persistence. This review highlights the interplay of both clinician's awareness of guideline recommendations and understanding of individual patient-level factors which impact adherence and persistence, which are required to reduce the incidence of preventable stroke attributable to AF.


atrial fibrillation, oral anticoagulant, prescription, persistence (or adherence), temporal trends

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