Patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) have a significant increased risk of embolic stroke. End stage renal disease (ESRD) patients on dialysis have an increased risk of both embolic stroke and bleeding. Stroke prevention studies with anticoagulation for AF patients have excluded patients on dialysis, and thus there remains no consensus on their management. We developed and implemented a Pan-Canadian multidisciplinary survey to explore the current beliefs and practices surrounding patients with AF on dialysis. We developed an online investigator-designed survey with both quantitative and qualitative responses using a secure, university-affiliated electronic service. The survey was distributed to physicians via the QxMD platform and directly to internal medicine, cardiology, and nephrology residency program directors for distribution to faculty members. 130 participants responded including 46 cardiologists, 45 nephrologists, 30 general internists and 9 other physicians. The preferred anticoagulant was warfarin. The CHADS score used to initiate anticoagulation was highly variable, with specialties differing in use of a CHADS threshold of ≥1 (p <0.001), and the impact of previous TIA/stroke (p=0.02). Calciphylaxis history affected the decision to prescribe anticoagulation. Specialties differed in threshold to consider direct oral anticoagulants for dialysis patients, with nephrologists more likely to prescribe anticoagulation at higher CHADS2 scores. Our survey demonstrated significant heterogeneity of anticoagulation use for stroke prevention in patients with AF on dialysis. Physician specialty and patient risk profiles contributed to the observed variability. This study re-emphasizes the need for clinical trials, large observational studies and consensus guidelines to address evident equipoise.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier Inc.