(Reuters Health) - Despite new treatment options in recent years, almost four in 10 people with an irregular heartbeat that increases their risk of stroke still don’t get anti-clotting medications that make strokes less likely, a U.S. study suggests.
For the study, researchers examined medication data collected from 2008 to 2014 for 655,000 patients with atrial fibrillation, an irregular rapid heartbeat that can lead to blood clots, heart failure and chronic fatigue. Most strokes occur when a clot blocks an artery carrying blood to the brain.
At the start of the study, treatment options included older anticoagulants, also known as blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin) that lengthen the time it takes for clots to form in the blood. These drugs also carry an increased risk of bleeding that requires careful monitoring with blood tests.