Lege Artis Medicinae

[New treatment option for oral anticoagulation in the prevention of cardiogenic stroke - Focus on the RE-LY trial]

SZAPÁRY László

MARCH 20, 2011

Lege Artis Medicinae - 2011;21(03)

[Atrial fibrillation (AF) represents the most common cause of cardioembolic stroke. The prevalence of AF increases with age and affects 10% of elderly people. AF-related stroke is usually severe and has a high mortality. The risk of stroke can be estimated on the basis of risk factors accompanying AF and age. Patients with one of the highest risk are those with AF and previous TIA or stroke. Efficient prevention is achieved by chronic anticoagulation therapy. In clinical practice, the use of vitamin K antagonists (VKA) has been the only option. The use of these agents is limited for a number of reasons, and clinicians are especially reluctant to use them in elderly patients at high risk of stroke. Consequently, of the patients with AF for whom anticoagulant therapy is indicated, only about 50-60% receives such therapy, and only half of the treated patients achieves target INR values. More than 50 years after the introduction of warfarin, data of trials with the new direct thrombin inhibitor dabigatran have been published in the past few years. In this paper, we review the results of the phase III, international RE-LY trial, published in 2009, which evaluated the preventive efficacy dabigatran etexilate in patients with AF compared with warfarin at a therapeutic dose. On the basis of the results, dabigatran used at a dose of 2×110mg daily provides the same protection as warfarin, whereas at a dose of 2×150mg it provides a signiificantly more efficient protection from AF-associated stroke and systemic embolism. In addition to its excellent preventive effect, dabigatran tretament results in a significant decrease in the risk of intracranial haemorrhages, and of other major haemorrhages. On the basis of the results, dabigatran will probably change the current treatment paradigm in the stroke prevention in patients with AF, and its introduction can substantially increase the number of patients treated efficiently and safely.]

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