OBJECTIVE: To evaluate antithrombotic (AT) use in individuals with atrial fibrillation (AF) and at high risk of stroke (CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2) and investigate whether pre-existing AT use may improve COVID-19 outcomes.

METHODS: Individuals with AF and CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2 on 1 January 2020 were identified using electronic health records for 56 million people in England and were followed up until 1 May 2021. Factors associated with pre-existing AT use were analysed using logistic regression. Differences in COVID-19-related hospitalisation and death were analysed using logistic and Cox regression in individuals with pre-existing AT use versus no AT use, anticoagulants (AC) versus antiplatelets (AP), and direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) versus warfarin.

RESULTS: From 972 971 individuals with AF (age 79 (±9.3), female 46.2%) and CHA2DS2-VASc score ≥2, 88.0% (n=856 336) had pre-existing AT use, 3.8% (n=37 418) had a COVID-19 hospitalisation and 2.2% (n=21 116) died, followed up to 1 May 2021. Factors associated with no AT use included comorbidities that may contraindicate AT use (liver disease and history of falls) and demographics (socioeconomic status and ethnicity). Pre-existing AT use was associated with lower odds of death (OR=0.92, 95% CI 0.87 to 0.96), but higher odds of hospitalisation (OR=1.20, 95% CI 1.15 to 1.26). AC versus AP was associated with lower odds of death (OR=0.93, 95% CI 0.87 to 0.98) and higher hospitalisation (OR=1.17, 95% CI 1.11 to 1.24). For DOACs versus warfarin, lower odds were observed for hospitalisation (OR=0.86, 95% CI 0.82 to 0.89) but not for death (OR=1.00, 95% CI 0.95 to 1.05).

CONCLUSIONS: Pre-existing AT use may be associated with lower odds of COVID-19 death and, while not evidence of causality, provides further incentive to improve AT coverage for eligible individuals with AF.


This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.

Cite as

Handy, A., Banerjee, A., Wood, A., Dale, C., Sudlow, C., Tomlinson, C., Bean, D., Thygesen, J., Mizani, M., Katsoulis, M., Takhar, R., Hollings, S., Denaxas, S., Walker, V., Dobson, R., Sofat, R. & CVD-COVID-UK Consortium 2022, 'Evaluation of antithrombotic use and COVID-19 outcomes in a nationwide atrial fibrillation cohort', Heart. https://doi.org/10.1136/heartjnl-2021-320325

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Last updated: 16 June 2022
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