Germany pharmaceutical firm Boehringer Ingelheim has reported first worldwide data from the GLORIA-AF Registry Programme highlighting substantial regional differences in how patients with an irregular heart beat (atrial fibrillation (AF)) were treated with stroke prevention medicines.

Data gathered from nine countries over one and a half years before the approval of novel oral anticoagulants demonstrate that a large proportion of patients with AF at risk of stroke were treated with antiplatelet therapy, such as ASA, or did not receive any stroke prevention treatment at all.

The company said that these patients were at increased risk of suffering a disabling or fatal stroke.

"The ongoing publication of results from the GLORIA-AF Registry Programme will help physicians, especially those based in China, to recognise that the gap between prescribing patterns in China compared with other parts of the world needs to be bridged."

AF is the most common heart rhythm disorder, while patients with this disease are at five-times higher risk of stroke if not appropriately treated and blood-thinners are essential for stroke prevention in these patients.

According to the company, latest treatment guidelines suggest that AF patients deemed at risk of stroke should take warfarin or a novel oral anticoagulant (NOAC), rather than less effective antiplatelet therapies such as ASA.

Results from the first phase of the GLORIA-AF Registry Programme were collected prior to the availability of novel oral anticoagulants in the participating countries.

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A total of 1,063 newly diagnosed AF patients with a moderate to high-risk of stroke were enrolled globally in the first phase of the programme.

The results show that majority of enrolled patients should have received stroke prevention treatment as they were deemed at moderate or high-risk of stroke.

In this trial, most patients in China were treated with antiplatelet therapy (53.7%) versus 27.1% in Europe.

The use of warfarin is lowest in China and highest in Europe, with nearly two thirds (63.9%) of AF patients in Europe received the drug compared to 20.3% in China.

Beijing Anzhen Hospital professor and chair of department of cardiology and member of the GLORIA-AF Steering Committee Chang-Sheng Ma said this data shows that more patients with atrial fibrillation in China were at potentially increased risk of stroke compared to Europe due to no treatment or lower usage of effective anticoagulants.

"The ongoing publication of results from the GLORIA-AF Registry Programme will help physicians, especially those based in China, to recognise that the gap between prescribing patterns in China compared to other parts of the world needs to be bridged," Ma said.

"We look forward to future results which will enable us to advance management of atrial fibrillation and to ultimately better protect patients against a potentially devastating stroke wherever in the world they live."

Around 56,000 patients in 50 countries will be enrolled in the GLORIA-AF Registry Programme, which was launched by the company to provide important scientific information from everyday clinical practice on antithrombotic prescribing patterns and patient outcomes.

The company said that patient enrolment into the programme has now been started in all major regions of the world with over 11,000 patients already participating in the registry.