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Drug Warfarin may be underused in women

  |   Dec. 14, 2011 at 12:24 PM
LEXINGTON, Ky., Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Warfarin -- a blood thinner prescribed to heart patients to prevent heart attacks caused by blood clots -- may be underutilized in women, U.S. researchers say.

Dr. Rabab Mohsin, an internal medicine resident at the University of Kentucky, Dr. Alison Bailey of the University of Kentucky Gill Heart Institute, working in conjunction with the Kentucky Women's Health Registry, identified women who reported arrhythmia -- irregular heartbeat. Specifically, the investigators worked to determine whether prescription warfarin, an anti-coagulant known as a safe and effective treatment for atrial fibrillation, was being appropriately utilized among a population of Kentucky women with self-reported atrial fibrillation.

Using survey data, the researchers found of the women who would be expected to be receiving warfarin, only 30 percent were prescribed the drug.

The women included in the survey had a higher than average level of income and education as compared to other Kentucky women in their age group, the researchers noted. Statistical analysis also revealed that older women were more likely to be taking warfarin -- a mean age of 73.4 years was found for those with atrial fibrillation who were on warfarin, while the population with atrial fibrillation but without warfarin treatment had a mean age of 61.8.

The researchers said they concluded that warfarin treatment for atrial fibrillation is underutilized in the group of Kentucky women studied, and that this underutilization is not attributable to economic or educational disparities.

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