Contemporary approaches to managing Atrial fibrillation: A survey of Australian general practitioners

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Australasian Medical Journal, 2015, 8 (11), pp. 357 - 367
Issue Date:
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© 2015, Australasian Medical Journal Pty Ltd. All rights reserved. Background Recent attention to the management of atrial fibrillation (AF) and stroke prevention has emphasised the need to support the use of existing pharmacotherapy through available services and resources, in preference to using the new, more expensive, novel oral anticoagulants. In this regard, general practitioners (GPs) are at the core of care. Aims To survey Australian GPs regarding their approach to managing AF, particularly in relation to stroke prevention therapy, and to identify the range of services to support patient care. Methods A structured questionnaire, comprising quantitative and qualitative responses, was administered to participating GPs within four geographical regions of NSW (metropolitan, regional, rural areas). Results Fifty GPs (mean age 53.74±9.94 years) participated. Most (98 per cent) GPs regarded themselves as primarily responsible for the management of AF, only referring patients to specialists when needed. However, only 10 per cent of GPs specialised in “heart/vascular health”. Most (76 per cent) GPs offered point-of-care international normalised ratio (INR) testing, with 90 per cent also offering patient support via practice nurses and home visits. Overall, key determinants influencing GPs’ initiation of antithrombotic therapy were: “stroke risk”/”CHADS2 score”, followed by “patients’ adherence/compliance”. GPs focused more on medication safety considerations and the day-to-day management of therapy than on the risk of bleeding. Conclusion Australian GPs are actively engaged in managing AF, and appear to be well resourced. Importantly, there is a greater focus on the benefits of therapy during decision-making, rather than on the risks. However, medication safety considerations affecting routine management of therapy remain key concerns, with patients’ adherence to therapy a major determinant in decision-making.
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