Recent Blog Articles
Treatments for rheumatoid arthritis may lower dementia risk
Scoring highly on Alternative Healthy Eating Index lowers risk for many illnesses
Can self-employment promote better cardiovascular health for women?
Why is it so challenging to find a primary care physician?
Harvard Health Ad Watch: A new injection treatment for eczema
3 simple swaps for better heart health
I’m too young to have Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, right?
Asking about guns in houses where your child plays
Behavioral weight loss interventions: Do they work in primary care?
Who needs treatment for ocular hypertension?
Ask the doctor: Do I need to take warfarin for occasional lone atrial fibrillation?
Q. I'm 64 and have had lone atrial fibrillation for about a decade. I have an echocardiogram every year to make sure the rest of my heart is okay. (It is.) My doctor hasn't prescribed any medications for me, but she wants me to take a blood thinner when I hit my 65th birthday. I'd rather not do this. Should I follow her recommendation? Also, is it possible that the endurance-type exercise regimens I have performed over many years led to my developing lone atrial fibrillation?
A. The decision to start taking warfarin (generic, Coumadin, Jantoven) for lone atrial fibrillation (atrial fibrillation not caused by underlying heart disease) or any other type of this heart rhythm disorder depends on several factors, not just age. Most cardiologists use the CHADS2 score (it stands for Cardiac failure, Hypertension, Age, Diabetes, and Stroke [doubled]) to help make the decision. As you can see in the table, age does not accrue any points until 75 years and older. If your CHADS2 score is zero, and you truly have lone atrial fibrillation, then it should be fine to hold off on taking warfarin. Some doctors recommend anticoagulation for people who are often or always in atrial fibrillation even though they have a CHADS2 score of zero, but this approach is not part of current guidelines for treating atrial fibrillation.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.
Free Healthbeat Signup
Get the latest in health news delivered to your inbox!