Geriatric Syndromes and Atrial Fibrillation: Prevalence and Association with Anticoagulant Use in a National Cohort of Older Americans.

TitleGeriatric Syndromes and Atrial Fibrillation: Prevalence and Association with Anticoagulant Use in a National Cohort of Older Americans.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2021
AuthorsShah, SJ, Fang, MC, Jeon, SY, Gregorich, SE, Covinsky, KE
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
ISSN Number1532-5415
Keywordsanticoagulants, Atrial Fibrillation, Epidemiology, geriatric syndromes

BACKGROUND: Although guidelines recommend focusing primarily on stroke risk to recommend anticoagulants in atrial fibrillation (AF), physicians report that geriatric syndromes (e.g., falls and disability) are important when considering anticoagulants. Little is known about the prevalence of geriatric syndromes in older adults with AF or the association with anticoagulant use.

METHODS: We performed a cross-sectional analysis of the 2014 Health and Retirement Study, a nationally representative study of older Americans. Participants were asked questions to assess domains of aging, including function, cognition, and medical conditions. We included participants 65 years and older with 2 years of continuous Medicare enrollment who met AF diagnosis criteria by claims codes. We examined five geriatric syndromes: one or more falls within the last 2 years, receiving help with activities of daily living (ADLs) or instrumental ADLs (IADL), experienced incontinence, and cognitive impairment. We determined the prevalence of geriatric syndromes and their association with anticoagulant use, adjusting for ischemic stroke risk (i.e., CHA DS -VASc score [congestive heart failure, hypertension, age, diabetes mellitus, stroke, vascular disease, and sex]).

RESULTS: In this study of 779 participants with AF (median age = 80 years; median CHA DS -VASc score = 4), 82% had one or more geriatric syndromes. Geriatric syndromes were common: 49% reported falls, 38% had ADL impairments, 42% had IADL impairments, 37% had cognitive impairments, and 43% reported incontinence. Overall, 65% reported anticoagulant use; guidelines recommend anticoagulant use for 97% of participants. Anticoagulant use rate decreased for each additional geriatric syndrome (average marginal effect = -3.7%; 95% confidence interval = -1.4% to -5.9%). Lower rates of anticoagulant use were reported in participants with ADL dependency, IADL dependency, and dementia.

CONCLUSION: Most older adults with AF had at least one geriatric syndrome, and geriatric syndromes were associated with reduced anticoagulant use. The high prevalence of geriatric syndromes may explain the lower than expected anticoagulant use in older adults.

Citation Key11117
PubMed ID32989731
PubMed Central IDPMC8174581
Grant ListKL2TR001870 / TR / NCATS NIH HHS / United States
K24HL141354 / HL / NHLBI NIH HHS / United States
P30AG044281 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States
P30AG015272 / AG / NIA NIH HHS / United States