Use of oral anticoagulants in older people with atrial fibrillation in UK general practice: protocol for a cohort study using the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD) database

Anneka Mitchell, Tomas J Welsh, Margaret C Watson, Julia Snowball, Anita McGrogan

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Introduction Warfarin has frequently been underused in older people for stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation (AF). Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) entered the UK market from 2008 and have been recommended as an alternative to warfarin. This study aimed to describe any changes in the prescribing of oral anticoagulants (OACs) to people aged ≥75 years in UK general practice before and after the introduction of DOACs, to examine differences in patient characteristics which may influence prescribers' decisions regarding anticoagulation, to evaluate the time people stay on OACs and switching between OACs. Methods and analysis A retrospective cohort study design will be used. Patients with a diagnosis of AF will be identified from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD). The study period will run from 1 January 2003 to 27 December 2017. Patients enter the cohort at the latest date of the start of the study period, first AF diagnosis, 75th birthday or a year from when they started to contribute research standard data. Follow-up continues until they leave the practice, death, the date the practice stops contributing research standard data or the end of the study period (27 December 2017). Exposure to OACs will be defined as ≥1 prescription issued for an OAC of interest during the study period. Patients issued an OAC in the year preceding study entry will be defined as a 'prevalent users'. Patients starting on an OAC during the study period will be defined as a 'incident users'. Incidence and prevalence of OAC prescribing, patient demographics and characteristics will be described during three time periods: 2003-2007, 2008-2012 and 2013-2017. Persistence (defined as the time from initiation to discontinuation of medication) with and switching between different OACs will be described. Ethics and dissemination The protocol for this study was approved by the CPRD Independent Scientific Advisory Committee. The results will be disseminated in a peer-reviewed journal and at conferences. Trial registration number EUPAS29923.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere032646
Number of pages9
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2019


  • aged
  • anticoagulants
  • atrial fibrillation
  • observational study
  • stroke

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