New Research Shows Blood-Thinning Treatment Standards Changing For Heart Patients

Katie Pence, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati and Massachusetts General Hospital have found that warfarin, a known anticoagulation (blood-thinning) drug, may not be as beneficial to some patients with atrial fibrillation as previously thought.

These findings were published online ahead of print in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

Warfarin is commonly prescribed to prevent blood clotting, particularly for patients with atrial fibrillation - a type of abnormal heart rhythm.

Mark Eckman, MD, a UC Health physician, professor of medicine and lead investigator of the study, says that this finding could change the way patients with the heart condition manage stroke risk.

"When considering patient-specific decision making for patients with atrial fibrillation, patients at lower risk of stroke and at high risk of bleeding should not receive oral anticoagulant therapy; patients at higher risk of stroke and at low risk of bleeding should receive anticoagulant therapy," he says. "The more difficult decisions lie in the middle where the risks of stroke and bleeding are more closely balanced. Here lies the so-called 'tipping point.'

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