Background: Atrial fibrillation (AF) and frailty are both associated with advanced age. Oral anticoagulants (OAC) effectively prevent strokes in AF patients but are underutilized in the elderly, possibly due to misperception of frailty.
Objective: We performed a systematic review to determine the prevalence of frailty in patients with AF, and whether frailty was associated with reduced prescription of OAC.
Methods: We systematically searched Cochrane, MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PubMed databases. Search terms combined relevant words and MeSH headings: 1) atrial fibrillation, 2) frail elderly, and 3) geriatric assessments. Studies that measured frailty using a validated instrument, and involved OAC for AF in frail and non-frail patients were eligible for inclusion. Pooled odds ratios were calculated using random-effects model.
Results: Of 166 reviewed titles, only 3 studies (1204 patients) met the inclusion criteria. Two used the Reported Edmonton Frail Scale (total 509 patients), and one used the Canadian Study of Health and Aging Clinical Frailty Scale (682 patients). All 3 studies involved hospitalized patients with an average age of 85 ± 6 and 45% were male. The weighted mean prevalence of frailty in patients with atrial fibrillation was 39% (95%CI 36-42). The weighted mean rate of OAC use was 57±11%. Frailty was associated with non-prescription of OAC compared to non-frail (OR 0.49, 95% CI 0.32-0.74, I2 =45%).
Conclusion: The prevalence of frailty in hospitalized elderly patients with AF is high, and the use of OAC is low in these patients. Frail elderly are significantly less likely to receive OAC.
Credits: Zardasht Oqab MD FRCPC, Payam Pournazari MD, Robert S Sheldon MD PhD