Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the commonest sustained cardiac arrhythmia and is associated with increased morbidity and mortality due to stroke and thrombo-embolism. In patients with AF, strokes are usually more severe, resulting in longer hospital stays, worse disability and considerable healthcare costs. The prevention of stroke therefore is crucial in the management of AF. Stroke risk stratification tools can be used to determine patients at higher risk of stroke, and if no contraindications are present oral anticoagulation (OAC) therapy can be initiated. Despite the strong evidence for the benefit of OAC in stroke prevention in patients with AF, the use of thromboprophylaxis remains inadequate. The key measures to prevent stroke in patients with AF include: adequate stroke risk assessment and thrombo-prophylaxis; prompt initiation of OAC and avoidance of interruptions; earlier detection of AF; and education to overcome the under-usage of OAC in elderly patients.
Credits: Ahmed Adlan MRCP; Gregory YH Lip MD