Antithrombotic drug prescription in atrial fibrillation and its rationale among general practitioners, internists and cardiologists in The Netherlands—The EXAMINE-AF study. A questionnaire survey

T Dinh, R Nieuwlaat, R G Tieleman, H R Büller, N A Mensing van Charante, M H Prins, H J G M Crijns
International Journal of Clinical Practice 2007, 61 (1): 24-31
The objective of the EXAMINE-AF study was to record and compare antithrombotic treatment in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) in daily clinical practice of general practitioners, internists and cardiologists in the Netherlands. Eighty-six general practitioners, 93 internists and 99 cardiologists responded to postal questionnaires and enrolled 1596 patients: 365, 351 and 880 respectively. A cardiologist was indicated to be the main treating physician for AF in 82% of all patients; current antithrombotic treatment was initiated in 80% by a cardiologist. Of all patients, 84% were at high risk for stroke and therefore were eligible for oral anticoagulation treatment, but only 64% actually received this. Cardiologists instituted appropriate antithrombotic treatment best, compared with general practitioners and internists (70% vs. 58% and 55%; p < 0.001). Positive predictive factors for oral anticoagulation prescription were previous stroke/transient ischaemic attack (OR, 2.31; 95% CI, 1.33-4.02) and heart failure (OR, 1.72; 95% CI, 1.23-2.42). Contraindications for oral anticoagulation (OR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.32-0.68), treatment by a general practitioner (OR, 0.29; 95% CI, 0.20-0.42) or internist (OR, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.15-0.39) were important factors for withholding treatment. Antithrombotic treatment in AF patients is well instituted in primary and secondary care in the Netherlands. Cardiologists play a key role in the diagnosis and management of the majority of AF patients, even in those regularly attending other physicians. Factors for oral anticoagulation prescription are heart failure, physician specialty and contraindications. Availability of guidelines seems instrumental for application of appropriate antithrombotic treatment.

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