Three RCTs were included in the review (44,563 patients). Mean length of follow-up ranged from 657 to 730 days. One trial was assessed as having low risk of bias for blinding, and limited use of intention-to-treat analyses led to the other two trials being rated as having an unclear risk of bias in the quality domain of other sources of bias. No other quality results were reported.
A statistically significant 22% reduction in risk of stroke and systemic embolism was observed for new oral anticoagulant groups, compared with warfarin groups (RR 0.78, 95% CI 0.67 to 0.92; three trials; Ι²=55.9%). Similar results were shown in relation to risks for ischaemic and unidentified stroke (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.77 to 0.99; three trials; Ι²=0%), haemorrhagic stroke (RR 0.45, 95% CI 0.31 to 0.68; three trials; Ι²=52.2%), vascular mortality (RR 0.87, 95% CI 0.77 to 0.98; two trials; Ι²=0%), and all-cause mortality (RR 0.88, 95% CI 0.82 to 0.95; three trials; Ι²=0%). Differences observed in risk for ischaemic and unidentified stroke and vascular mortality were of borderline statistical significance. No statistically significant difference was found between the groups in risk for myocardial infarction.
A statistically significant 51% reduction in risk of intracranial bleeding was observed for new oral anticoagulant groups, in comparison with warfarin groups (RR 0.49, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.66; three trials; Ι²=54.9%). No statistically significant differences were found between the groups in risks for major bleeding and gastrointestinal bleeding events.