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Safety and efficacy of well managed warfarin: a report from the Swedish quality register Auricula
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Medicine. (Sundsvall Research Unit)
Umeå University, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Medicine. (Sundsvall Research Unit)
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2015 (English)In: Thrombosis and Haemostasis, ISSN 0340-6245, Vol. 113, no 6, 1370-1377 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The safety and efficacy of warfarin in a large, unselected cohort of warfarin-treated patients with high quality of care is comparable to that reported for non-vitamin K antagonists. Warfarin is commonly used for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation, as well as for treatment and prevention of venous thromboembolism. While reducing risk of thrombotic/embolic incidents, warfarin increases the risk of bleeding. The aim of this study was to elucidate risks of bleeding and thromboembolism for patients on warfarin treatment in a large, unselected cohort with rigorously controlled treatment. This was a retrospective, registry-based study, covering all patients treated with warfarin in the Swedish national anticoagulation register Auricula, which records both primary and specialised care. The study included 77,423 unselected patients with 100,952 treatment periods of warfarin, constituting 217,804 treatment years. Study period was January 1, 2006 to December 31, 2011. Atrial fibrillation was the most common indication (68%). The mean time in therapeutic range of the international normalised ratio (INR) 2.0-3.0 was 76.5%. The annual incidence of I severe bleeding was 2.24% and of thromboembolism 2.65%. The incidence of intracranial bleeding was 0.37% per treatment year in the whole population, and 0.38% among patients with atrial fibrillation. In conclusion, warfarin treatment where patients spend a high proportion of time in the therapeutic range is safe and effective, and will continue to be a valid treatment option in the era of newer oral anticoagulants.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. 113, no 6, 1370-1377 p.
National Category
Hematology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-106015DOI: 10.1160/TH14-10-0859ISI: 000355776400026PubMedID: 25716771OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-106015DiVA: diva2:840018
Available from: 2015-07-06 Created: 2015-07-03 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Anticoagulation treatment in patients with a mechanical heart valve
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Anticoagulation treatment in patients with a mechanical heart valve
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background

Every year about 2,500 patients in Sweden undergo surgery for heart valve disease, primarily in the aortic valve.  In contrast to the mitral valve, which can be repaired in 70% of the cases, the aortic valve is normally replaced by a mechanical or biological prosthesis. A mechanical heart valve (MHV) necessitates lifelong anticoagulation treatment with a vitamin K antagonist, most commonly warfarin, due to the high thrombogenicity of the prosthesis. The quality of the warfarin treatment is crucial in these patients. Compared to other countries, treatment quality in Sweden is very high; nonetheless, there is always room for improvement. One of the ways to achieve this improvement is to implement computerized dosing assistance. Treatment recommendations for anticoagulation intensity are based on few and old studies, making these recommendations uncertain. There is therefore a need for studies designed to establish the appropriate level of anticoagulation therapy.

Aim

The aim of these studies was to investigate the efficacy and safety of anticoagulation treatment among patients with mechanical heart valve prostheses in Sweden; to assess whether computerized dosing can increase the treatment quality; to investigate the influence of the treatment quality, measured by Time in Therapeutic Range (TTR) and INR variability, on the risk of complications and, finally, to establish the optimal intensity of anticoagulation treatment in this group of patients.

Methods

Data were obtained from AuriculA – a national quality registry established in 2006, which currently includes approximately 50% of all patients treated with oral anticoagulation in Sweden.

Study II used only data from AuriculA. 769,933 warfarin-dosing suggestions proposed by the dosing algorithm in AuriculA were analysed. Accepted dose suggestions (590,939) were compared with 178,994 manually-changed doses in regard to the resultant INR value, measured as mean error (deviation from target INR) and hit rate (number of INR samples within the target range 2-3).

In study III, AuriculA was used to identify patients in Sundsvall and Malmö in the period 2008 – 2011 who were receiving warfarin for a mechanical heart valve prosthesis, as well as to retrieve their INR data. Data on background characteristics and bleedings or thromboembolic complications were manually retrieved from medical records by two investigators.  A total of 534 patients with mechanical heart valve prostheses were divided into quartiles based on TTR and were compared regarding the risk of complications.

For Studies I and IV, data from AuriculA were merged with the Swedish National Patient Register, SWEDEHEART/ Heart surgery, and the Swedish Cause of Death Register, comprising in total 77,423 patients on warfarin with 217,804 treatment years. Every treatment period registered in AuriculA was given an individual identification number. During the study period a patient could have any number of treatment periods. The number of complications in total and in different patient groups within the study population was investigated. Complications were defined by ICD-10 codes. Major bleeding was defined as an event necessitating hospital treatment and given a discharge diagnosis with one of the ICD-10 codes reflecting bleeding, as listed in the Appendix. Bleeding events were divided into intracranial, gastrointestinal and other bleedings. Thromboembolic complications consist of venous events (deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, venous stroke) or arterial events (stroke, TIA, acute myocardial infarction, peripheral arterial embolism).

Data were analysed using both simple, descriptive statistical methods and various tests such as Mann-Whitney (or two sample Wilcoxon), T-test, Chi 2 test, ANOVA, multivariate analysis with logistic regression and survival analysis with Cox Regression with proportional hazard assumption.

Results

Treatment quality 

Mean TTR among all patients in Study I was 76.5% whereas patients with mechanical heart valve prostheses had a TTR of 74.5%. The annual incidence of major bleeding or thromboembolic events among all patients was 2.24% and 2.65%, respectively. The incidence of intracranial bleeding was 0.37% per year in the general population and 0.51% among patients with mechanical heart valve prostheses, who also had a higher bleeding rate in total (3.37% per year).

Both the mean and median errors were smaller (0.44 vs. 0.48 and 0.3 vs. 0.4, respectively) and the hit rate was higher (0.72 vs. 0.67) when the dose suggested by the algorithm was accepted, compared to when it was manually changed.

TTR 

In Study III there was no significant difference in the risk of thromboembolism regardless of TTR level. Risk of bleeding in quartiles I and II was more than two times higher than in the quartile with TTR >82.9.

In Study IV, lower TTR (≤70%) was associated with a significantly higher rate of complications when compared with TTR >70%. Bleeding risk was higher in the group with lower TTR (HR=2.43, CI 2.02-2.89, p<0.001). After dividing patients into TTR quartiles, the rate of complications in total was significantly higher in quartiles I to III compared with quartile IV, which had the highest TTR. Risk of thromboembolism, major bleeding and death was higher in the first and second quartile compared to the quartile with the highest TTR.

INR variability 

Higher INR variability above mean (≥0.40) was related to a higher rate of complications compared with lower INR variability (<0.40) as shown in Study IV. Bleeding risk was higher in the group with INR variability ≥0.40 (HR = 2.15, CI 1.75-2.61, p<0.001).

Comparison of quartile IV, which had the lowest INR variability, with the other three revealed that quartiles I and II, which had the highest INR variability, had significantly worse outcomes for all complications except for thromboembolic events, plus also death in quartile II.

TTR and INR variability combined 

High variability and low TTR combined was associated with a higher risk of bleedings (HR 2.50, CI 1.99-3.15), death (3.34, CI 2.62-4-27) and thrombosis (1.55, CI 1.21-1.99) compared to the best group.

Level of anticoagulation

Higher warfarin treatment intensity (mean INR 2.8-3.2 vs. 2.2-2.7) was associated with a higher rate of bleedings (HR 1.29, CI 1.06-1.58), death (1.73, CI 1.38-2.16) and complications in total (1.24, CI 1.06-1.41) after adjustment for MHV position, age and comorbidity.

Conclusion

Warfarin treatment quality is crucial for patients with mechanical heart valve prostheses. Computerized dosing assistance could help maintain high warfarin treatment quality.

Well-managed treatment with TTR ≥70% and INR variability below mean <0.40 is associated with a lower risk of serious complications compared with a lower TTR and higher INR variability.

No benefit of higher warfarin treatment intensity was found for any valve type or position.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2016. 72 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1831
Keyword
Mechanical heart valve, anticoagulation, warfarin, Time in Therapeutic Range (TTR), INR variability
National Category
Cardiac and Cardiovascular Systems
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-128355 (URN)978-91-7601-539-1 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-01-13, Aulan, Sundsvalls sjukhus, Lasarettsvägen, Sundsvall, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2016-12-21 Created: 2016-12-02 Last updated: 2016-12-21Bibliographically approved
2. Oral anticoagulation and stroke risk
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Oral anticoagulation and stroke risk
2017 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: The risk of ischaemic stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and mechanical heart valve (MHV) prostheses can be reduced by oral anticoagulation (OAC), which increases the risk of serious bleeding. The aims of this thesis were [1] to find out how effective and safe warfarin is where treatment quality is high, i.e. Sweden, with proportion of time that patients spend within the therapeutic range (TTR) >70%, [2] whether there is evidence for administering low-molecular-weight heparin (LMWH) during temporary interruptions of OAC (bridging therapy), and whether non-vitamin K-dependent oral anticoagulants (NOACs) as a group, [3] or individually, [4] are more effective and safer than warfarin when used for stroke prevention in patients with AF.

Materials and methods: All four studies were retrospective, based on the Swedish anticoagulation register Auricula, and done with merging of data from some or all of the National Patient Register, the Prescribed Drug Register, the Swedish Stroke Register (Riksstroke), and the Cause of Death Register. In studies 2–4, propensity score matching was performed to obtain treatment groups with similar risk profiles. Outcomes were defined as haemorrhages or thromboses requiring specialist care, or death. Haemorrhages were intracranial, gastrointestinal, or other. Thromboses were ischaemic stroke, systemic embolism, myocardial infarction, or venous thromboembolism (VTE).

Study 1 described all patients on warfarin during 2006–2011, which was before the introduction of NOACs. Study 2 was a cohort study of all patients who had a planned interruption of warfarin during the same period. Study 3 included all 49,011 patients starting OAC for stroke prevention due to AF between 1 July 2011 and 31 December 2014, and study 4 all 64,382 patients with the same indication between 1 January 2013 and 31 December 2015.

Results: Study 1 showed that for the 77,423 patients on warfarin with 217,804 treatment years, TTR was 77.4% for patients with AF, 74.5% with MHV, and 75.9% with VTE. Annual rates of intracranial bleeding were 0.38%, 0.51%, and 0.30%. In study 2, with 14,556 warfarin interruptions, the 30-day risk of a bleeding requiring specialist care was 0.64% for LMWH treated and 0.46% for controls. For patients with VTE as indication for OAC, bleeding rate with LMWH was significantly higher at 0.85% vs. 0.16% (hazard ratio 5.24, 95% confidence interval 1.39–19.77), but with no difference for patients with MHV or AF. The incidence of ischaemic complications was higher in the LMWH bridging group overall and for patients with MHV and AF, but not for patients with VTE. In study 3, for the 12,694 patients starting NOAC (10,392 treatment years) or matched warfarin patients (9,835 treatment years, TTR 70%) due to AF, annual incidence of ischaemic stroke and systemic embolism did not differ between the groups (1.35% vs. 1.58%), but risks of major bleedings and intracranial bleedings were significantly lower: 2.76% vs. 3.61% and 0.40% vs. 0.69%. In study 4, patients on individual NOACs (6,574 dabigatran, 8,323 rivaroxaban, 12,311 apixaban) were compared to 37,174 patients starting warfarin (in total 81,176 treatment years). No NOAC showed any difference in risk of ischaemic stroke or systemic embolism, but there were fewer intracranial bleedings, serious bleedings overall, and deaths for dabigatran and apixaban compared to warfarin. For patients starting rivaroxaban the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding was higher than for matched warfarin counterparts, with no significant differences in other bleeding risks, or mortality.

Conclusions: Swedish warfarin treatment shows TTR levels that are high by international standards, correlating to low incidences of ischaemic and haemorrhagic events. LMWH bridging has not been proven beneficial, even for patients with MHV, meaning that bridging in general cannot be recommended. NOACs as a group were safer than high-quality warfarin treatment. Efficacy did not differ, even when comparing individual NOACs to warfarin, but there were fewer bleedings on dabigatran and apixaban. Although not more efficient than warfarin with a high TTR, NOACs should be the recommended first choice for OAC in AF, on the merit of lower bleeding risks.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå University, 2017. 68 p.
Series
Umeå University medical dissertations, ISSN 0346-6612 ; 1930
Keyword
Stroke, warfarin, atrial fibrillation, dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban, low-molecular-weight heparin, bridging
National Category
Other Clinical Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-141597 (URN)978-91-7601-794-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2017-12-01, Aulan, Sundsvalls sjukhus, Igeltjärnsvägen 1, Sundsvall, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

Finansiär: Forskning och Utveckling, Region Västernorrland

Available from: 2017-11-10 Created: 2017-11-08 Last updated: 2017-11-23Bibliographically approved

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