AIMS: Data on gender differences in oral anticoagulation for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation are conflicting, largely limited to regional reports and vitamin K antagonist use. We aimed to analyze gender-specific anticoagulant prescription patterns early following the introduction of non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) in a large, global registry on atrial fibrillation.
METHODS: The Global Registry on Long-Term Oral Antithrombotic Treatment in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation (GLORIA-AF) is an international registry program involving patients with newly diagnosed atrial fibrillation (<3 months from arrhythmia onset). We used data from 15,092 consecutive patients (median age, 71.0 years; 45.5% were women) enrolled between 2011 and 2014. Globally, 79.7% of women and 80.2% of men were anticoagulated; the absolute between-gender difference in prevalence of anticoagulant use was -0.5% (95% confidence interval, -1.8% to 0.8%). Vitamin K antagonists were prescribed to 32.8% and 31.9% (NOACs 46.8% and 48.3%) of women and men, respectively.
RESULTS: No confounder for the association between gender and anticoagulant prescription was identified. Between-gender differences in anticoagulant use (lower use in women compared with men by decreasing order of magnitude of the difference) were found for CHA 2DS 2-VASc (congestive heart failure, hypertension, age ≥75 years, diabetes mellitus, stroke/transient ischemic attack, vascular disease, age 65-74 years, sex category [female]) score = 1; CHADS 2 (congestive heart failure, hypertension, age ≥75 years, diabetes mellitus, stroke) score = 0; previous bleeding; age <65 years; no history of hypertension; myocardial infarction; coronary artery disease; North America region; and specialist office setting.
CONCLUSION: Globally, the prevalence of anticoagulant use is similar in women and men. The decision to prescribe oral anticoagulation seems to depend predominantly on guideline-related differences in stroke risk stratification rather than on gender.