Relevant BNF sections: 2.8.2, 2.9
Atrial fibrillation (AF) predisposes to stroke, particularly in patients with rheumatic heart disease, congestive heart failure, arterial hypertension, diabetes mellitus or uncontrolled thyrotoxicosis.1 In those with rheumatic heart disease it is usual to give warfarin to reduce the incidence of stroke, although there has been no randomised controlled trial on which to base this approach. Whether patients with non-rheumatic AF should be anticoagulated was unclear when we tackled this subject five years ago.2 This article reviews the evidence from recent randomised controlled trials and considers whether anticoagulation with warfarin, or antiplatelet therapy with aspirin, should now be routine for patients with non-rheumatic AF.
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