A Network Meta-Analysis Comparing Osteoporotic Fracture among Different Direct Oral Anticoagulants and Vitamin K Antagonists in Patients with Atrial Fibrillation


There are limited studies comparing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures between different direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) and vitamin K antagonists (VKA) in non-valvular atrial fibrillation (AF). Using a network meta-analysis (NMA), we compared osteoporotic fractures among 5 different treatment arms, viz. dabigatran, rivaroxaban, apixaban, edoxaban, and VKA.


Ten studies, including 5 randomized control trials and 5 population-based studies, with a total of 321,844 patients (148,751 and 173,093 in the VKA and DOAC group, respectively) with a median follow-up of 2 years, were included. A Bayesian random-effects NMA model comparing fractures among the treatment arms was performed using MetInsight V3. Sensitivity analysis excluded studies with the highest residual deviances from the NMA model.


The mean age of the patients was 70 years. The meta-analysis favored DOACs over VKA with significantly lower osteoporotic fracture (odds ratio [OR], 0.77; 95% credible interval [CrI], 0.70-0.86). The NMA demonstrated that fractures were significantly lower with apixaban compared with dabigatran (OR, 0.64; 95% CrI, 0.44-0.95); however, fractures were statistically similar between apixaban and rivaroxaban (OR, 0.84; 95% CrI, 0.58-1.24) and dabigatran and rivaroxaban (OR, 1.32; 95% CrI, 0.90-1.87). Based on the Bayesian model of NMA, the probability of osteoporotic fracture was highest with VKA and lowest with apixaban, followed by rivaroxaban, edoxaban, and dabigatran.


The decision to prescribe anticoagulants in elderly patients with AF should be made not only based on thrombotic and bleeding risks but also on the risk of osteoporotic fracture; these factors should be considered and incorporated in contemporary cardiology practice.