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Atrial fibrillation and anticoagulation in a stroke unit population

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Abstract Background: 

Atrial fibrillation (AF) is an important predisposing factor for ischaemic stroke. There is evidence to suggest that even in appropriate candidates warfarin therapy is underutilized. We assessed the prevalence of AF in an Australian stroke unit to determine the degree of undertreatment at presentation. Methods: 

A retrospective analysis of all patients admitted to our Stroke Unit between October 2004 and September 2006 was carried out. All patients with a diagnosis of AF, either new or old, were then selected from this group to determine the overall prevalence and anticoagulation status. Data regarding prior stroke, stroke severity and discharge anticoagulation status were also determined. Results: 

Data from a total of 500 patients were analysed. Our results showed that AF-related strokes accounted for a large proportion (28%) of all admissions and were associated with a larger neurological deficit. Most patients (68%) with a prior diagnosis of AF without having obvious contraindications were either not anticoagulated or under-anticoagulated when presenting with an ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack. Conclusion: 

Our results stress the importance of initiating and maintaining anticoagulation in patients with AF and without obvious contraindications to minimize the risk of subsequent stroke.
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Keywords: acute cerebral infarction; anticoagulant; atrial fibrillation; embolic stroke; primary and secondary stroke prevention

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Neurology, The Canberra Hospital, 2: National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, Australian National University, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

Publication date: 2009-11-01

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