The intersection of risk and benefit: is warfarin anticoagulation suitable for atrial fibrillation in patients on hemodialysis?

Manish M Sood, Paul Komenda, Amy R Sood, Claudio Rigatto, Joe Bueti
Chest 2009, 136 (4): 1128-1133
The risks and benefits of anticoagulation for stroke prevention with atrial fibrillation is clearly delineated in the general population. Little evidence exists for patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) about whether the extrapolation of these guidelines is appropriate. In patients with ESRD who are undergoing hemodialysis, the rates for both stroke and bleeding are 3 to 10 times higher than that for the general population. Furthermore, the proportion of hemorrhagic to ischemic strokes has increased, making the decision of whether to initiate anticoagulation problematic. In this commentary, we discuss the existing literature for stroke in atrial fibrillation, stroke type, risk reduction with anticoagulation, and bleeding risks in the hemodialysis population. We comment on validated risk stratification models of stroke prevention and bleeding and their applicability to patients undergoing hemodialysis. Finally, we recommend treatment strategies that are based on the existing state of knowledge.

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