Circ J. 2021 Jun 5. doi: 10.1253/circj.CJ-21-0399. Online ahead of print.
Stroke prevention is the cornerstone of management of atrial fibrillation (AF), and non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) are commonly prescribed. Because routine monitoring of anticoagulant effects of NOACs is not necessary, appropriate dosing following the criteria of each NOACs defined in pivotal randomized trials is important. Real-world data demonstrate that underdosing NOACs is associated with a higher risk of ischemic stroke without a lower risk of major bleeding. Furthermore, renal function of AF patients should be assessed using the Cockcroft-Gault formula to prevent overestimation that could result in overdosing of NOACs. The assessment of bleeding risk is important, and the HAS-BLED score should be used to help identify patients at high risk of bleeding (HAS-BLED score ≥3). Moreover, the HAS-BLED score should be reassessed at periodic intervals to address potentially modifiable bleeding risk factors because bleeding risks of AF patients are not static. When managing NOAC-related bleeding episodes, the possibility of occult malignancies (e.g., grastrointestinal [GI] tract cancers for patients experiencing GI bleeding and bladder cancer for patients with hematuria) should be kept in mind. Addressing all of these issues is crucial to achieving better clinical outcomes for anticoagulated AF patients. More efforts are necessary to incorporate clear and easy-to-follow recommendations about optimal management of anticoagulation into the guidelines to improve AF patient care.