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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is common in patients on dialysis. Although randomized trials of anticoagulation for AF have demonstrated striking reductions in stroke, these trials did not recruit patients on dialysis. We thus undertook this systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies including patients with AF on dialysis that reported associations of anticoagulation use. Twenty studies involving 529,741 subjects and 31,321 patients with AF on dialysis were identified. Anticoagulation was associated with a 45% (95% CI 13% to 88%) increased risk of any stroke, reflecting a nonsignificant 13% (95% CI -4% to 34%) increased ischemic stroke risk and 38% (95% CI 3% to 85%) increased hemorrhagic stroke risk. There was also a 44% (95% CI 38% to 56%) lower risk of any thromboembolism, and a 31% (95% CI 12% to 53%) increased risk of any bleeding but no clear association with cardiovascular death (relative risk 0.99, 95% CI 0.86 to 1.15) or all-cause mortality (relative risk 0.97, 95% CI 0.90 to 1.04). Incident event rates were similar or worse in patients on anticoagulation. In conclusion, these observational analyses provide little supporting evidence of benefit, and instead suggest harm, from anticoagulation in patients on dialysis with AF. These results raise the possibility that the effects of anticoagulation in patients with AF on dialysis may not be similar to the clear benefit of anticoagulation seen in patients with AF without end-stage renal disease. Randomized trials are required to definitively evaluate the safety and efficacy of anticoagulation for AF in the dialysis setting.

Original publication

DOI

10.1016/j.amjcard.2016.03.042

Type

Journal article

Journal

The American journal of cardiology

Publication Date

06/2016

Volume

117

Pages

1934 - 1941

Addresses

Nuffield Department of Population Health, Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit, University of Oxford, Oxford, United Kingdom; School of Medicine, Centre for Heart Rhythm Disorders, South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, University of Adelaide and Royal Adelaide Hospital, Adelaide, Australia. Electronic address: christopher.wong@ctsu.ox.ac.uk.

Keywords

Humans, Kidney Failure, Chronic, Atrial Fibrillation, Thromboembolism, Anticoagulants, Renal Dialysis, Incidence, Survival Rate, Risk Factors, Stroke, Global Health