Physicians' Academy for Cardiovascular Education

Lower risk of osteoporotic fractures in AF patients with DOAC vs. VKA treatment

Osteoporotic Fractures in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation Treated With Conventional Versus Direct Anticoagulants

Literature - Binding C, Bjerring Olesen J, Abrahamsen B, et al. - J Am Coll Cardiol 2019;74:2150–8,

Introduction and methods

An increased risk of fractures in patients taking oral anticoagulants has been suggested by several studies [1-3]. Explanations might be found in an association between warfarin and undercarboxylated osteocalcin, which is associated with low bone mineral density (BMD) [4-6], and dietary restrictions that come with VKA prescription, contributing to a low BMD. There is limited evidence on differences between VKAs and DOACs on osteoporotic fractures. Therefore, this study examined risk of osteoporotic fractures in AF patients taking DOAC or VKA therapy.

For this purpose, data from Danish registries were used and linked. Study period was between Jan 1, 2013 and June 30, 2017. All Danish patients with nonvalvular AF were identified who were first-time users of VKA, or DOAC dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban or edoxaban. One of inclusion criteria was 180 days of OAC use and an exclusion criterium was use of osteoporotic medication. Five outcomes were studied: any fracture, major osteoporotic fracture, hip fracture, initiation of osteoporosis medication, and composite endpoint of any fracture of initiation of osteoporosis medication. Baseline was 180 days after filling first prescription of VKA or DOAC and follow-up was two years. A total of 37350 patients were included; 12168 (32.6%) took a VKA, 25182 (67.4%) a DOAC.

Main results


An analysis of data from Danish AF patients showed that DOAC therapy was associated with a lower risk of major osteoporotic fractures, any fractures, starting osteoporosis medication, and a combined endpoint of any fractures and initiation of osteoporotic medication compared to VKA treatment. These findings suggest that DOAC use could be preferred over VKA treatment in AF patients with risk factors for osteoporotic fractures.


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