Research Article| Volume 38, ISSUE 4, P863-873, April 2016

Drug Therapy for Rate and Rhythm Control in Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation: A Cross-sectional Study With Electronic Health Records in a Primary Care Cohort



      The purpose of this study is to describe the pharmacologic management of rate and rhythm and assess which factors are associated with the prescription of these drugs in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation (AF) from the Effectiveness, Safety, and Costs in Atrial Fibrillation study.


      This retrospective, cross-sectional study describes the pharmacologic rate and rhythm control management strategies adopted during 2012 in all patients diagnosed as having nonvalvular AF in 2007 to 2011. The data source is the Information System for the Improvement of Research in Primary Care database, which is based on primary care electronic health records. To answer the study objectives, 3 multivariate regression models to assess the independent factors associated with the prescription of these drugs were conducted for 2012. The rate and rhythm control drugs assessed were β-blockers, nondihydropyridine calcium channel blockers, antiarrhythmic agents, and digoxin.


      A total of 21,304 patients were diagnosed as having nonvalvular AF; 11,638 (54.6%) had at least one heart rate measure during 2012. Of them, 7777 (66.8%) received one or more rate and/or rhythm control drugs during 2012. Most patients (5751 [73.9%] of 7777) received only one drug for rate and/or rhythm control. Rate control agents were the most frequently used in 2012, with β-blockers the most prescribed group (4091 patients [52.6%]). A variety of different variables were associated with the prescription of rate and/or rhythm control drugs in the multivariate regression models.


      The most used pharmacologic treatment of rate and rhythm control in our AF population is β-blockers, indicating that a rate control strategy is preferred in our setting, as widely recommended.

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