Background: Non-Vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) emerged as an alternative with comparable or superior efficacy and safety to vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) for stroke prevention in patients with non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF). Objectives: The aim of the current study was to investigate the patterns, predictors, timelines and temporal trends of shifting from VKAs to NOACs. Methods: In this retrospective observational study, the computerized database of a large healthcare provider in Israel, Maccabi Healthcare Services, was searched to identify patients with AF for whom either a VKA or NOAC was prescribed between 2012 and 2015. Time from diagnosis to therapy initiation and to shifting between therapies was evaluated. Results: Out of 6987 eligible AF incident patients, 2338 (33.4%) initiated treatment with a VKA and 2221 (31.7%) with a NOAC. In addition, 5259 prevalent patients were analyzed. During the study period, NOAC prescriptions proportion among the newly diagnosed cases increased from 32 to 68.4% (p for trend < 0.001). The median time from diagnosis to first dispensing was greater in NOAC than VKA and decreased among patients treated with NOAC during the study period (2012: 1.9 and 0.3 months, 2015: 0.7 and 0.2 months, respectively). During follow-up, 3737 (49%) patients (54.3% and 47.1% of the incident and prevalent cases, respectively), shifted from a VKA to a NOAC, after a median of 22 months and 39 months in the incident and prevalent cases, respectively, decreasing throughout the study period. Female gender, younger age, southern district, higher CHADS2 and CHA2DS2-VASC score, non-smoking, and treatment with antiplatelets were associated with a greater likelihood for therapy shift. Shifting from a NOAC to a VKA decreased over time from 8 to 4.5% in 2012 to 0.5% and 0.7% in 2015 in the incident and prevalent groups, p < 0.001 respectively. Conclusions: Shifting from VKA to NOAC occurred in 50% of the cases, more frequently among incident cases, and younger patients with greater stroke risk. Shifting from a NOAC to a VKA was much less frequent, yet it occurred more often in incident cases and decreased over time. A socially and economically sensitive program to optimize the initiation of OAC therapy upon diagnosis is warranted.
- Atrial fibrillation
- Non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants
- Time to initiation
- vitamin-k antagonists