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New Risk Assessment Tool to Predict Stroke in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation
Date:6/20/2013

OAKLAND, Calif., June 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- A more accurate and reliable stroke prediction model has been developed to help physicians decide whether to start blood-thinning treatment for patients with atrial fibrillation, as described in the current online issue of the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Atrial fibrillation affects millions of Americans. Because the heart-rhythm disturbance promotes the formation of blood clots that can travel to the brain and block an artery, atrial fibrillation independently increases the risk of ischemic stroke four-to-five-fold. The condition is highly age-dependent and affects 10 percent of those over age 80.

The findings are a result of the Anticoagulation and Risk Factors in Atrial Fibrillation Study conducted within the national Cardiovascular Research Network and led by Kaiser Permanente and Massachusetts General Hospital.

"While predicting ischemic stroke and major bleeding are both relevant to the anticoagulation decision, formal decision analyses indicate that for most patients with atrial fibrillation, risk of ischemic stroke is the more important," said senior author Alan Go, MD, of the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research. "Among study participants, 46 percent were categorized by the ATRIA score as having less than a 1 percent per year risk. Such low risk indicates a small net benefit from anticoagulation therapy."

The new model was particularly good at calculating risk in primary prevention patients, the large group whose stroke risk is most uncertain and where personalizing the anticoagulation decision is most pressing, and in predicting severe strokes.

To predict atrial fibrillation stroke risk factors, the new model incorporates common clinical features (including older age, prior ischemic stroke, diabetes, heart failure, hyper
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SOURCE Kaiser Permanente
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