Oral anticoagulant therapy is the mainstay of stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation; it is highly effective at reducing stroke risk, but its use can be limited by increased risk of bleeding. As new oral anticoagulants are available, barriers to optimal use of oral anticoagulation therapy warrant consideration by healthcare professionals and administrators who are seeking to optimize the quality of care for patients with atrial fibrillation. Suboptimal use of oral anticoagulation therapy constitutes an important health problem with significant humanistic and economic consequences. Based on a review of the medical literature published between 2000 and 2011, this article summarizes the literature on the barriers to optimal use of oral anticoagulation therapy, describes the clinical and economic burdens that these barriers add to the burden of atrial fibrillation, and discusses how well the new oral anticoagulants may address some of these issues.
Review of challenges in optimizing oral anticoagulation therapy for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation