Female Atrial Fibrillation Patients Less Likely to Receive Blood Thinning Treatments

Approximately 45% of female patients with atrial fibrillation did not receive blood thinning treatment to prevent strokes.

Findings from a recent study suggests that female patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) are less likely to receive blood thinning treatments to prevent strokes compared with male counterparts.

"The irony is that women have a higher risk of AF-related stroke, controlling for other risk factors such as hypertension, diabetes, congestive heart failure, yet women are being under treated," said lead researcher Mark Eckman, MD.

Researchers analyzed data from 1585 patients whose physicians used the computerized support tool called the Atrial Fibrillation Decision Support Tool (AFDST) that uses patient information and characteristics to help make decisions about anticoagulant therapy, according to the study published in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The AFDST is able to evaluate the risk of AF-related stroke and major bleeding while on blood thinning treatment and can then make a suggestion for the patient’s ideal therapy.

Researchers found that approximately 45% of women included in the study were receiving treatment that was different than suggested by the AFDST compared with 39% of men who were receiving treatment other than what was suggested.

"There are some take home messages. Doctors need to realize we have mental biases that women are healthier and at lower risk of stroke. It's the same story for coronary artery disease and risk of heart attacks. We think women are at lower risk and we ignore warning signs,” Dr Eckman concluded. “Thus, when we are making decisions for blood thinning therapy for patients with atrial fibrillation, we need to remember that women are at higher risk and we need to make sure we treat them aggressively enough to prevent stroke."