Cost-effectiveness of preference-based antithrombotic therapy for patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation

B F Gage, A B Cardinalli, D K Owens
Stroke; a Journal of Cerebral Circulation 1998, 29 (6): 1083-91

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: Recent atrial fibrillation guidelines recommend the incorporation of patient preferences into the selection of antithrombotic therapy. However, no trial has examined how incorporating such preferences would affect quality-adjusted survival or medical expenditure. We compared 10-year projections of quality-adjusted survival and medical expenditure associated with two atrial fibrillation treatment strategies: warfarin-for-all therapy versus preference-based therapy. The preference-based strategy prescribed whichever antithrombotic therapy, warfarin or aspirin, had the greater projected quality-adjusted survival.

METHODS: We used decision analysis stratified by the number of stroke risk factors (history of stroke, transient ischemic attack, hypertension, diabetes, or heart disease). The base case focused on compliant 65-year-old patients who had nonvalvular atrial fibrillation and no contraindications to antithrombotic therapy.

RESULTS: In patients whose only risk factor for stroke was atrial fibrillation, preference-based therapy improved projected quality-adjusted survival by 0.05 quality-adjusted life year (QALY) and saved $670. For patients who had atrial fibrillation and one additional risk factor for stroke, preference-based therapy improved quality-adjusted survival by 0.02 QALY and saved $90. In patients who had atrial fibrillation and multiple additional risk factors for stroke, preference-based therapy increased medical expenditures and did not improve quality-adjusted survival substantially. The benefits of preference-flexible therapy arose from the minority of patients who would have had a longer quality-adjusted survival if they had been prescribed aspirin rather than warfarin.

CONCLUSIONS: As do risks of stroke and of hemorrhage, patients' preferences help to determine which antithrombotic therapy is optimal. Preference-based treatment should improve quality-adjusted survival and reduce medical expenditure in patients who have nonvalvular atrial fibrillation and not more than one additional risk factor for stroke.

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