Front Med (Lausanne). 2021 Sep 17;8:654620. doi: 10.3389/fmed.2021.654620. eCollection 2021.
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common arrhythmia in chronic kidney disease (CKD), with a close bidirectional relationship between the two entities. The presence of CKD in AF increases the risk of thromboembolic events, mortality and bleeding. Vitamin K antagonists (VKA) have been the mainstay of treatment for the prevention of thromboembolic events in AF until recently, with confirmed benefits in AF patients with stage 3 CKD. However, the risk-benefit profile of VKA in patients with AF and stages 4-5 CKD is controversial due to the lack of evidence from randomized controlled trials. Treatment with VKA in CKD patients has been associated with conditions such as poorer anticoagulation quality, increased risk of bleeding, faster progression of vascular/valvular calcification and higher risk of calciphylaxis. Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have shown equal or greater efficacy in stroke/systemic embolism prevention, and a better safety profile than VKA in post-hoc analysis of the pivotal randomized controlled trials in patients with non-valvular AF and stage 3 CKD, yet evidence of its risk-benefit profile in more advanced stages of CKD is scarce. Observational studies associate DOACs with a good safety/effectiveness profile compared to VKA in non-dialysis CKD patients. Further, DOACs have been associated with a lower risk of acute kidney injury and CKD development/progression than VKA. This narrative review summarizes the evidence of the efficacy and safety of warfarin and DOACs in patients with AF at different CKD stages, as well as their effects on renal function, vascular/valvular calcification and bone health.