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  • Apixaban for Stroke Prevention in Subclinical Atrial Fibrillation

Apixaban for Stroke Prevention in Subclinical Atrial Fibrillation


Subclinical atrial fibrillation is short-lasting and asymptomatic and can usually be detected only by long-term continuous monitoring with pacemakers or defibrillators. Subclinical atrial fibrillation is associated with an increased risk of stroke by a factor of 2.5; however, treatment with oral anticoagulation is of uncertain benefit.


We included 4012 patients with a mean (±SD) age of 76.8±7.6 years and a mean CHA2DS2-VASc score of 3.9±1.1 (scores range from 0 to 9, with higher scores in- dicating a higher risk of stroke); 36.1% of the patients were women. After a mean follow-up of 3.5±1.8 years, stroke or systemic embolism occurred in 55 patients in the apixaban group (0.78% per patient-year) and in 86 patients in the aspirin group (1.24% per patient-year) (hazard ratio, 0.63; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.45 to 0.88; P=0.007). In the on-treatment population, the rate of major bleeding was 1.71% per patient-year in the apixaban group and 0.94% per patient-year in the aspirin group (hazard ratio, 1.80; 95% CI, 1.26 to 2.57; P=0.001). Fatal bleeding occurred in 5 pa- tients in the apixaban group and 8 patients in the aspirin group.


Among patients with subclinical atrial fibrillation, apixaban resulted in a lower risk of stroke or systemic embolism than aspirin but a higher risk of major bleeding. (Funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and others; ARTESIA number, NCT01938248.)

This article was published on November 12, 2023, at
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2310234

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