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Atrial fibrillation (AF) is common in patients with heart failure and is associated with higher mortality. Although previous studies have reported that direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) reduce the risk of cardiovascular events in out-patients with AF, it remains unclear whether DOACs reduce mortality in hospitalized heart failure (HHF) patients with AF. Therefore, we examined the impact of DOACs on mortality in this group of patients.
Consecutive 497 HHF patients with AF were retrospectively registered and divided into three groups on the basis of the presence of anticoagulant therapy: non-anticoagulant group (Non, n = 90), Vit K antagonists (VKAs) group (n = 257) and DOACs group (n = 150). We followed up all the patients for mortality.
In the Kaplan-Meier analysis (mean follow-up of 1093 days), all-cause mortality was significantly lower in the VKAs and DOACs groups than in the Non group (31.1% and 15.3% vs. 43.3%, log-rank P < 0.001). In the multivariable Cox proportional hazard analysis after adjusting for other potential confounding factors, usage of DOACs and VKAs were independently associated with lower mortality in HHF patients AF (DOACs, HR 0.356, P = 0.001; VKAs, HR 0.472, P = 0.002). Furthermore, the propensity-matched 1:1 cohort was assessed based on the propensity score (DOACs, n = 114 and VKAs, n = 114). All-cause mortality was significantly lower in the DOACs group than in the VKAs group in the post-matched cohort (12.3% vs. 35.1%, log-rank P = 0.038). In the Cox proportional hazard analysis, the use of DOACs was associated with lower mortality in the post-matched cohort (HR 0.526, P = 0.041).
Appropriate use of anticoagulants in HHF patients with AF is important, and DOACs potentially improve all-cause mortality in such patients.