ABSTRACT: Stroke is the most common cardiovascular disorder after heart disease, with a high mortality and often poor quality of life in survivors. Atrial fibrillation (AF), the most commonly occurring sustained cardiac arrhythmia increases the risk of stroke by five. However, stroke risk is not homogeneous and varies with associated morbidities and risk factors. Risk assessment scores have been developed and according to the calculated level of risk, guidelines recommend treatment with antithrombotic agents, preferably vitamin K antagonists (VKA). Despite these recommendations many patients with AF do not receive adequate thromboprophylaxis. The presence of AF is often not recognized and VKA are underused due to doctor- or patient-related factors and intrinsic disadvantages of these drugs. An awareness campaign for the diagnosis of AF is warranted, highlighting the risk of stroke. Novel anticoagulants that largely overcome many of the limitations of vitamin K antagonists are becoming available.
Acta cardiologica 04/2012; 67(2):161-7. · 0.61 Impact Factor