Anticoagulation in women with non-valvular atrial fibrillation in the stroke prevention using an oral thrombin inhibitor (SPORTIF) trials

Mardi Gomberg-Maitland, Nanette K Wenger, Jan Feyzi, Maria Lengyel, Annabelle S Volgman, Palle Petersen, Lars Frison, Jonathan L Halperin
European Heart Journal 2006, 27 (16): 1947-53

AIMS: The risk of stroke is greater among women with atrial fibrillation (AF) than men. Warfarin protects against stroke, but treatment-related bleeding occurs more often in women than in men.

METHODS AND RESULTS: SPORTIF III (open label, n=3410) and V (double-blind, n=3922) included 2257 women with AF and one or more stroke risk factors randomized to warfarin [target international normalized ratio (INR) 2.0-3.0] or ximelagatran (36 mg twice daily). Primary outcomes were all stroke (ischaemic/haemorrhagic) and systemic embolic event. Women were older, on average, than men, 73.4+/-8.0 vs. 69.8+/-9.0 years (P<0.0001). More women were >75-years old and women had more risk factors than men had (P<0.0001). The INR on warfarin (mean 2.5+/-0.7) was within target range for 67% of follow-up regardless of gender. Women more often developed primary events [2.08%/year, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.60-2.56%/year vs. 1.44%/year, 95% CI 1.18-1.71%/year in men; P=0.016). Major bleeding rates were similar (P=0.766) but women experienced more overall (major/minor) bleeding (P<0.001). Warfarin was associated with more overall bleeding in both genders and more major bleeding in women than in men (P=0.001).

CONCLUSION: When compared with men with AF, women in these studies were older and had more stroke risk factors. Women were more prone to anticoagulant-related bleeding; the higher rate of thrombo-embolism among women was related to more frequent interruption of anticoagulant therapy.

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