Appropriate Aspirin or Anticoagulant Use

Appropriate Aspirin Use

Low-dose aspirin is a proven and effective medication for secondary cardiovascular disease prevention.1,2,3 This includes treatment of patients with a history of heart attack, stroke, transient ischemic attack, vascular stent, or vascular surgery (including coronary artery bypass and surgical procedures for peripheral arterial disease).

Aspirin’s role in the secondary prevention of cardiovascular events is not in question and should be used barring significant contraindications. Data suggest that at least four million American adults not taking aspirin for secondary prevention as recommended.4

For people who have never had a cardiovascular event, aspirin is only recommended if they are at high risk and only after consultation with a clinician. It is not recommended that a person starts or stops taking daily low-dose aspirin without talking to their clinical team.

Currently available DOACs*
  • Dabigatran
  • Rivaroxaban
  • Apixaban
  • Edoxaban
  • Betrixaban

* Direct-acting oral anticoagulants

Appropriate Anticoagulant Use in Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a heart arrhythmia. Some people with atrial fibrillation are unaware and have no symptoms. Others may have an irregular heartbeat, palpitations, fatigue, or shortness of breath. The risk for atrial fibrillation increases with age. High blood pressure, the risk for which also increases with age, accounts for at least 1 in 5 cases of atrial fibrillation.5 An estimated 12.1 million people in the U.S. will be living with atrial fibrillation by 2030.6

Atrial fibrillation significantly increases a person’s risk for stroke. When standard stroke risk factors are accounted for, atrial fibrillation is associated with a fivefold increased risk of ischemic stroke.5 Strokes related to atrial fibrillation tend to be more severe than strokes with other underlying causes.5

Oral anticoagulant medications, like warfarin, when appropriately prescribed and used, significantly reduce the risk of stroke in people with atrial fibrillation. In addition to warfarin, there are now several direct-acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs) that are FDA approved.7 National clinical practice guidelines recommend DOACs as first-line agents for most indications, including nonvalvular atrial fibrillation, especially among older patients with an elevated bleeding risk.8 However, data suggest that appropriate anticoagulation therapies are sub-optimally utilized among patients with atrial fibrillation.9

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Page last reviewed: January 27, 2022