Aims The introduction of non-VKA oral anticoagulants (NOACs), which differ from the earlier vitamin K antagonist (VKA) treatments, has changed the approach to stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation (AF). GLORIA-AF is a prospective, global registry programme describing the selection of antithrombotic treatment in newly diagnosed AF patients at risk of stroke. It comprises three phases: Phase I, before the introduction of NOACs; Phase II, during the time of the introduction of dabigatran, the first NOAC; and Phase III, once NOACs have been established in clinical practice.
Methods and results In Phase I, 1063 patients were eligible from the 1100 enrolled (54.3% male; median age 70 years); patients were from China (67.1%), Europe (EU; 27.4%), and the Middle East (ME; 5.6%). The majority of patients using VKAs had high stroke risk (CHA(2)DS(2)-VASc >= 2; 86.5%); 13.5% had moderate risk (CHA(2)DS(2)-VASc = 1). Vitamin K antagonist use was higher for persistent/permanent AF (47.7%) than that for paroxysmal (23.9%). Most patients in China were treated with antiplatelet agents (53.7%) vs. 27.1% in EU and 28.8% in ME. In China, 25.9% of patients had no antithrombotic therapy, vs. 8.6% in EU and 8.5% in ME.
Conclusion Phase I of GLORIA-AF shows that VKAs were mostly used in patients with persistent/permanent (vs. paroxysmal) AF and in those with high stroke risk. Furthermore, there were meaningful geographical differences in the use of VKA therapy in the era before the availability of NOACs, including a much lower use of VKAs in China, where most patients either received antiplatelet agents or no antithrombotic treatment.