Incidence and Predictors of Switching and Dose Change of Direct Oral Anticoagulants among Elderly Patients with Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation: A 5-Year Analysis of a Large Administrative Database

In the last decade, novel oral anticoagulants (NOACs) have emerged as prominent therapeutic options in non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF). We analysed the clinical burden and the switching rate between all available NOACs, and their dosage change over a period of 5 years in a representative population of patients with NVAF aged between 70 and 75 years. Methods and Results: This is a retrospective observational study on administrative databases, covering approximately 6.2 million health-assisted individuals by the Italian National Health System (around 11% of the entire Italian residents). Out of 4640 NVAF patients treated with NOACs and aged 70–75 years in 2017, 3772 (81.3%) patients were still in treatment with NOAC up to 2021 and among them, 3389 (73.0%) patients remained in treatment with the same NOAC during 2017–2021. In fact, 10.2% of patients switched NOAC type and 10.3% changed the dose of the same NOAC. Overall, after switching, the dabigatran and rivaroxaban groups lost, respectively, 13.5% and 2.8% of patients, while apixaban and edoxaban resulted in a relative percentage increase of 6.8% and 44.6% of patients, respectively. By a logistic regression analysis, the treatment with rivaroxaban, apixaban, and edoxaban (respect to dabigatran) was associated with a significant risk reduction of switch of 57%, 68%, and 44%, respectively. On the other hand, several features of high risk were associated with dose reduction. Conclusions. In our 5-year analysis of a large administrative database, a switching among NOACs or a change in NOAC dosages occurred in around 20% of elderly patients with NVAF. The type of NOAC was associated with a high switching rate, while several characteristics of high risk resulted as predictors of dose reduction of NOACs. Moreover, a worsening trend of clinical conditions occurred in patients maintaining the same NOAC treatment across 2017–2021.