[Skip to Navigation]
April 2017

Atrial Fibrillation, Type 2 Diabetes, and Non–Vitamin K Antagonist Oral Anticoagulants: A Review

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital, New York, New York
  • 2Division of Cardiology, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas
  • 3TIMI Study Group, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Cardiol. 2017;2(4):442-448. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2016.5224

Importance  Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia and is associated with a 5-fold increase in the risk for stroke. Type 2 diabetes is an independent risk factor for both stroke and atrial fibrillation, and in the setting of AF, type 2 diabetes is independently associated with a 2% to 3.5% increase in absolute stroke rate per year. The overlap in the pathophysiologies of AF and type 2 diabetes are not well understood, and current practice guidelines provide few recommendations regarding patients with both conditions.

Observations  In this article, we review the epidemiology and pathophysiology of the nexus of AF and type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, we analyze the subgroup of patients with type 2 diabetes enrolled in phase 3 clinical trials of non–vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants in prevention of arterial thromboembolism in AF, highlighting the greater absolute benefit of non–vitamin K oral anticoagulants in patients with type 2 diabetes. Finally, we offer recommendations on risk stratification and therapy for patients with concomitant AF and type 2 diabetes.

Conclusions and Relevance  We highlight the increased thromboembolic risk with coexisting AF and type 2 diabetes. We recommend that further studies be done to evaluate the potential benefits of anticoagulation for all patients who have both and the potential for non–vitamin K oral anticoagulants to have greater benefits than risks over vitamin K antagonists.

Add or change institution