Risk for Bleeding-Related Hospitalizations During Use of Amiodarone With Apixaban or Rivaroxaban in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Wayne A. Ray, Cecilia P. Chung, C. Michael Stein, Walter Smalley, Eli Zimmerman, William D. Dupont, Adriana M. Hung, James R. Daugherty, Alyson L. Dickson, Katherine T. Murray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Amiodarone, the most effective antiarrhythmic drug in atrial fibrillation, inhibits apixaban and rivaroxaban elimination, thus possibly increasing anticoagulant-related risk for bleeding. OBJECTIVE: For patients receiving apixaban or rivaroxaban, to compare risk for bleeding-related hospitalizations during treatment with amiodarone versus flecainide or sotalol, antiarrhythmic drugs that do not inhibit these anticoagulants' elimination. DESIGN: Retrospective cohort study. SETTING: U.S. Medicare beneficiaries aged 65 years or older. PATIENTS: Patients with atrial fibrillation began anticoagulant use between 1 January 2012 and 30 November 2018 and subsequently initiated treatment with study antiarrhythmic drugs. MEASUREMENTS: Time to event for bleeding-related hospitalizations (primary outcome) and ischemic stroke, systemic embolism, and death with or without recent (past 30 days) evidence of bleeding (secondary outcomes), adjusted with propensity score overlap weighting. RESULTS: There were 91 590 patients (mean age, 76.3 years; 52.5% female) initiating use of study anticoagulants and antiarrhythmic drugs, 54 977 with amiodarone and 36 613 with flecainide or sotalol. Risk for bleeding-related hospitalizations increased with amiodarone use (rate difference [RD], 17.5 events [95% CI, 12.0 to 23.0 events] per 1000 person-years; hazard ratio [HR], 1.44 [CI, 1.27 to 1.63]). Incidence of ischemic stroke or systemic embolism did not increase (RD, -2.1 events [CI, -4.7 to 0.4 events] per 1000 person-years; HR, 0.80 [CI, 0.62 to 1.03]). The risk for death with recent evidence of bleeding (RD, 9.1 events [CI, 5.8 to 12.3 events] per 1000 person-years; HR, 1.66 [CI, 1.35 to 2.03]) was greater than that for other deaths (RD, 5.6 events [CI, 0.5 to 10.6 events] per 1000 person-years; HR, 1.15 [CI, 1.00 to 1.31]) (HR comparison: P = 0.003). The increased incidence of bleeding-related hospitalizations for rivaroxaban (RD, 28.0 events [CI, 18.4 to 37.6 events] per 1000 person-years) was greater than that for apixaban (RD, 9.1 events [CI, 2.8 to 15.3 events] per 1000 person-years) (P = 0.001). LIMITATION: Possible residual confounding. CONCLUSION: In this retrospective cohort study, patients aged 65 years or older with atrial fibrillation treated with amiodarone during apixaban or rivaroxaban use had greater risk for bleeding-related hospitalizations than those treated with flecainide or sotalol. PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCE: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)769-778
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of internal medicine
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine


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