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Association of sex with stroke and bleeding risk of apixaban and rivaroxaban in elderly atrial fibrillation patients using propensity score weights


Background — Evidence from clinical trials suggests a differential effect of sex on the effectiveness and safety of direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC) for stroke prophylaxis in atrial fibrillation (AF).

Methods — This population-based cohort study examined the independent effect of sex on hemorrhage and ischemic stroke in 23,884 patients (55% females; ≥66 years) with AF starting apixaban or rivaroxaban treatment in Ontario, Canada. Patients were followed 90 days after their DOAC prescription. Using female sex as the exposure of interest, differences in baseline characteristics were balanced between sexes using inverse probability weights based on propensity scores. Applying weighted modified Poisson regression, risk ratios (RR) were estimated for major hemorrhage, ischemic stroke/systemic embolism/transient ischemic attack (thereafter stroke), myocardial infarction (MI), and all-cause mortality, with males as reference.

Results — Females were older, had higher predicted stroke risk (CHADS2) and fewer comorbidities than males. Males had a higher prevalence of coronary artery disease, diabetes, and cancer, and similar predicted bleeding risk (HAS-BLED). After weighting, baseline characteristics were well balanced. The 90-day risks for hemorrhage (RR 0.96; 95% CI 0.80-1.15; p=0.69) and stroke (RR 1.01; 95% CI 0.86-1.19; p=0.94) were similar between sexes which remained true when assessing each DOAC separately by dosing regimen. Compared to males, females had a lower risk for MI (RR 0.66; 95% CI 0.52-0.84; p=0.0008), and all-cause mortality (RR 0.76; 95% CI 0.67-0.87; p<0.0001).

Conclusions — Our findings do not suggest an association of sex with the 90-day risk of hemorrhage or ischemic stroke in older AF patients prescribed apixaban or rivaroxaban.



Gulilat M, Jandoc R, Jeyakumar N, McArthur E, Garg AX, Kim RB, Tirona RG, Schwarz UI. CJC Open. 2021; Sep 6 [Epuub ahead of print].

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