Eur J Intern Med. 2023 Aug 28:S0953-6205(23)00304-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ejim.2023.08.020. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: The prevalence of atrial fibrillation (AF) in individuals with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) on chronic hemodialysis is increasing. The optimal anticoagulant choice in this population is unclear since these patients were excluded from the pivotal randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) vs. vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) in the general AF population. We aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of DOACs vs. VKAs in patients with AF and ESRD on chronic hemodialysis through a systematic review and meta-analysis of all available evidence.
PATIENTS/METHODS: We performed a systematic search in MEDLINE and Scopus for RCTs or observational studies of patients with AF and ESRD on chronic hemodialysis who were treated with DOACs or VKAs. The outcomes of interest included ischemic stroke, the composite of ischemic stroke or systemic embolism, major bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, minor bleeding events and all-cause mortality.
RESULTS: Among 397 studies identified from the literature search, six studies (three RCTs and three observational studies) were included in the meta-analysis. Compared with VKA-treated patients, those treated with DOACs had similar risk of ischemic stroke (RR:0.76, 95% CI:0.41-1.41), ischemic stroke or systemic embolism (RR:0.65, 95% CI:0.38-1.10), major bleeding (RR:0.79, 95% CI:0.49-1.28) and all-cause death (RR:0.79, 95% CI:0.56-1.12). The risk of gastrointestinal bleeding was lower in DOAC- vs VKA-treated patients in three eligible observational studies (RR:0.73, 95% CI: 0.54-0.99, I2 = 79%) but this was not confirmed in two eligible RCTs (RR:0.69, 95% CI: 0.33-1.43, I2 = 0%).
CONCLUSIONS: Among AF patients with ESRD on chronic hemodialysis, the risk of ischemic stroke, ischemic stroke or systemic embolism, minor bleeding, major bleeding, and all-cause mortality is similar in patients treated with DOACs compared to VKAs. Given that the meta-analysis of RCTs on gastrointestinal bleeding did not confirm the results of the meta-analysis of the observational studies, it cannot be concluded that gastrointestinal bleeding is lower among DOAC-treated patients.
PROTOCOL REGISTRATION: PROSPERO CRD42023391966.