What are the risk factors for stroke and how do they affect atrial fibrillation (Afib) (AF) anticoagulation management decisions?

Updated: Nov 18, 2019
  • Author: Lawrence Rosenthal, MD, PhD, FACC, FHRS; Chief Editor: Jeffrey N Rottman, MD  more...
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One of the major management decisions in atrial fibrillation (AF) (and atrial flutter) is determining the risk of stroke and appropriate anticoagulation regimen for low-, intermediate-, and high-risk patients. For each anticoagulant, the benefit in terms of stroke reduction must be weighed against the risk of clinically significant bleeding.

Overall, approximately 15-25% of all strokes in the United States (75,000/y) can be attributed to AF. Known risk factors for stroke in patients with AF include advancing age, female sex, hypertension, diabetes, heart failure, prior history of stroke/transient ischemic attack (TIA)/thromboembolism, coronary artery disease, peripheral arterial disease, and valvular heart disease (rheumatic valvular disease). [1]

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