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Net Benefit of Warfarin in Atrial Fibrillation

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Atrial fibrillation is a common heart disorder noted in older individuals wherein the upper chambers of the heart (referred to as the atrium) do not function normally. This leads to reduction in the rate of blood flow which subsequently results in formation of clots that can get lodged in any organ and block the blood supply. A common complication of individuals with atrial fibrillation is stroke. Doctors generally advise the use of blood thinning agents such as warfarin to prevent the formation of clots in such individuals. However, the administration of warfarin is associated with an increased risk of bleeding which can lead to stroke.

The net benefit of warfarin in atrial fibrillation was evaluated in a study that involved more than 13,000 adults suffering from atrial fibrillation. It was noted that administration of blood thinners had multiple benefits. Warfarin was noted to benefit rather than harm older individuals (between 74-84 years), individuals with a history of stroke and those with a high risk of developing a stroke. The authors concluded that benefits of receiving blood thinners such as warfarin was better in old aged individuals and those with a higher risk for stroke.

It can be concluded that older aged individuals (i.e., above 74 years of age) and those with a higher risk of developing a stroke are better benefited with the administration of warfarin. Blood thinners such as warfarin may cause more harm in individuals below the age of 65 years. Nevertheless, individuals suffering from atrial fibrillation must discuss with the doctor about the benefits and risks of warfarin administration before initiation of the therapy.

Source: http://www.annals.org/cgi/content/full/151/5/I-36

Written by: healthplus24.com team

Date last updated: December 09, 2014