Atrial fibrillation is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia and the most frequently encountered cause of embolic stroke. Vitamin K antagonists (such as warfarin) have represented the cornerstone of anticoagulation practice for the last 60 years. Although highly effective in preventing thromboembolic events among patients with atrial fibrillation, warfarin therapy is limited by a multitude of potential problems. Hence, warfarin is significantly underused in clinical practice, with only half of warfarin-treated patients actually achieving therapeutic anticoagulation in routine clinical practice. Consequently, there is an overwhelming need for an alternative oral anticoagulant for patients with atrial fibrillation that is safer, more practical and effective. Ximelagatran (Exanta, AstraZeneca) is a novel oral direct thrombin inhibitor that is rapidly converted to the active compound melagatran after oral absorption. It has a low potential for drug interactions, anticoagulation monitoring is not required, and it is administered at a fixed twice-daily dose. The Stroke Prevention using the ORal Thrombin Inhibitor in patients with nonvalvular atrial Fibrillation (SPORTIF) III and V trials have together demonstrated the noninferiority of ximelagatran relative to warfarin for the prevention of stroke and embolic events in atrial fibrillation. Unfortunately, initial optimism has been tempered by serious concerns over its safety data in view of its propensity to cause elevation in liver enzymes.
|Number of pages||13|
|Journal||British Journal of Ophthalmology|
|Publication status||Published - 1 Jul 2005|