Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Predictors of warfarin use in atrial fibrillation in the United States: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Victoria L Baczek1, Wendy T Chen1, Jeffrey Kluger2 and Craig I Coleman1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmacy Practice, University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy, 69 North Eagleville Road, Storrs, CT 06268, USA

2 Department of Cardiology, Hartford Hospital, 80 Seymour Street, Hartford, CT 06102, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Family Practice 2012, 13:5  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-13-5

Published: 3 February 2012

Abstract

Background

Despite warfarin's marked efficacy, not all eligible patients receive it for stroke prevention in AF. The aim of this meta-analysis was to evaluate the association between prescriber and/or patient characteristics and subsequent prescription of warfarin for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF).

Methods

Observational studies conducted in the US using multivariate analysis to determine the relationship between characteristics and the odds of receiving warfarin for stroke prevention were identified in MEDLINE, EMBASE and a manual review of references. Effect estimates of prescriber and/or patient characteristics from individual studies were pooled to calculate odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals.

Results

Twenty-eight studies reporting results of 33 unique multivariate analyses were identified. Warfarin use across studies ranged from 9.1%-79.8% (median = 49.1%). There was a moderately-strong correlation between warfarin use and year of study (r = 0.60, p = 0.002). Upon meta-analysis, characteristics associated with a statistically significant increase in the odds of warfarin use included history of cerebrovascular accident (OR = 1.59), heart failure (OR = 1.36), and male gender (OR = 1.12). Those associated with a significant reduction in the odds of warfarin use included alcohol/drug abuse (OR = 0.62), perceived barriers to compliance (OR = 0.87), contraindication(s) to warfarin (OR = 0.81), dementia (OR = 0.32), falls (OR = 0.60), gastrointestinal hemorrhage (OR = 0.47), intracranial hemorrhage (OR = 0.39), hepatic (OR = 0.59), and renal impairment (OR = 0.69). While age per 10-year increase (OR = 0.78) and advancing age as a dichotomized variable (cut-off varied by study) (OR = 0.57) were associated with significant reductions in warfarin use; qualitative review of results of studies evaluating age as a categorical variable did not confirm this relationship.

Conclusions

Warfarin use has increased somewhat over time. The decision to prescribe warfarin for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation is based upon multiple prescriber and patient characteristics. These findings can be used by family practice prescribers and other healthcare decision-makers to target interventions or methods to improve utilization of warfarin when it is indicated for stroke prevention.