Comparative Study
Journal Article
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Efficacy and safety of novel oral anticoagulants in patients with cervical artery dissections.

BACKGROUND: American and European guidelines support antiplatelet agents and anticoagulants as reasonable treatments of cervical artery dissection (CAD), though randomized clinical trials are lacking. The utility of novel oral anticoagulants (NOAC), effective in reducing embolic stroke risk in non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF), has not been reported in patients with CAD. We report on the use, safety, and efficacy of NOACs in the treatment of CAD.

METHODS: We retrospectively identified patients diagnosed with CAD at a single academic center between January 2010 and August 2013. Patients were categorized by their antithrombotic treatment at hospital discharge with a NOAC (dabigatran, rivaroxaban, or apixaban), traditional anticoagulant (AC: warfarin or treatment dose low-molecular weight heparin), or antiplatelet agent (AP: aspirin, clopidogrel, or aspirin/extended-release dypyridamole). Using appropriate tests, we compared the baseline medical history, presenting clinical symptoms and initial radiographic characteristics among patients in the 3 treatment groups. We then evaluated for the following outcomes: recurrent stroke, vessel recanalization, and bleeding complications. p values <0.05 were considered significant.

RESULTS: Of the 149 included patients (mean age 43.4 years; 63.1% female; 70.5% vertebral artery CAD), 39 (26.2%), 70 (47.0%), and 40 (26.8%) were treated with a NOAC, AC, and AP, respectively. More patients with severe stenosis or occlusion were treated with NOAC than with AC or AP (61.8 vs. 60.0 vs. 22.5%, p = 0.002). Other baseline clinical and radiographic findings, including the presence of acute infarction and hematoma, did not differ between the 3 treatment groups. One hundred and thirty-five (90.6%) patients had clinical follow-up (median time 7.5 months) and 125 (83.9%) had radiographic follow-up (median time 5 months) information. There were 2 recurrent strokes in the NOAC group and 1 in each of the AC and AP groups (p = 0.822). There were more major hemorrhagic events in the AC group (11.4%) compared to the NOAC (0.0%) and AP (2.5%) groups (p = 0.034). Three patients treated with NOAC and none treated with AC or AP had a worsened degree of stenosis on follow-up imaging (8.6 vs. 0.0 vs. 0.0%, p = 0.019).

CONCLUSION: Compared to traditional anticoagulants for CAD, treatment with NOACs is associated with similar rates of recurrent stroke, fewer hemorrhagic complications, but greater rates of radiographic worsening. These data suggest that NOACs may be a reasonable alternative in the management of CAD. Prospective validation of these findings is needed.

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