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Warfarin in systemic sclerosis-associated and idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension. A Bayesian approach to evaluating treatment for uncommon disease.

OBJECTIVE: Warfarin is recommended in systemic sclerosis-associated pulmonary arterial hypertension (SSc-PAH) and idiopathic PAH (IPAH) to improve survival. There is no evidence to support this in SSc-PAH and the evidence in IPAH is conflicting. We evaluated the ability of warfarin to improve survival using 2 large SSc-PAH and IPAH cohorts.

METHODS: The effect of warfarin on all-cause mortality was evaluated. Bayesian propensity scores (PS) were used to adjust for baseline differences between patients exposed and not exposed to warfarin, and to assemble a matched cohort. Bayesian Cox proportional hazards models were constructed using informative priors based on international PAH expert elicitation.

RESULTS: Review of 1138 charts identified 275 patients with SSc-PAH (n = 78; 28% treated with warfarin) and 155 patients with IPAH (n = 91; 59% treated with warfarin). Baseline differences in PAH severity and medications were resolved using PS matching. In the matched cohort of 98 patients with SSc-PAH (49 treated with warfarin), the posterior median hazard ratio (HR) was 1.06 [95% credible interval (CrI) 0.70, 1.63]. In the matched cohort of 66 patients with IPAH (33 treated with warfarin), the posterior median HR was 1.07 (95% CrI 0.57, 1.98). The probability that warfarin improves median survival by 6 months or more is 23.5% in SSc-PAH and 27.7% in IPAH. Conversely, there is a > 70% probability that warfarin provides no significant benefit or is harmful.

CONCLUSION: There is a low probability that warfarin improves survival in SSc-PAH and IPAH. Given the availability of other PAH therapies with demonstrable benefits, there is little reason to use warfarin to improve survival for these patients.

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