, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 9-17
Date: 15 Oct 2010

Stroke Prevention in the High-risk Atrial Fibrillation Patient: Medical Management

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Medical management of patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) at high risk for stroke is limited by problems of imperfect tools for assessment of thromboembolism and bleeding risks. Improved instruments, such as the CHA2DS2VASc and HAS-BLED risk stratification scores, have been incorporated into European practice guidelines. Until recently, the most effective therapy for stroke prevention has been anticoagulation with a vitamin K antagonist, but new oral anticoagulants in development, antiarrhythmic drugs that reduce adverse cardiovascular events in patients with AF, and interventional techniques for occlusion of the left atrial appendage represent promising options for stroke prevention. These new strategies will need focused evaluation in the most challenging AF patients—those with a high risk of bleeding, prior thromboembolism, or thrombosis-prone surfaces such as mechanical heart valve prostheses or drug-eluting coronary stents, for whom the limitations of currently available treatment options and a paucity of data are particularly acute.