Treatment strategies for patients with atrial fibrillation and anticoagulant-associated intracranial hemorrhage: an overview of the pharmacotherapy

José Miguel Rivera-Caravaca, María Asunción Esteve-Pastor, Anny Camelo-Castillo, Inmaculada Ramírez-Macías, Gregory Y H Lip, Vanessa Roldán, Francisco Marín
Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy 2020 July 13, : 1-15

INTRODUCTION: Oral anticoagulants (OAC) reduce stroke/systemic embolism and mortality risks in atrial fibrillation (AF). However, there is an inherent bleeding risk with OAC, where intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) is the most feared, disabling, and lethal complication of this therapy. Therefore, the optimal management of OAC-associated ICH is not well defined despite multiple suggested strategies.

AREAS COVERED: In this review, the authors describe the severity and risk factors for OAC-associated ICH and the associated implications for using DOACs in AF patients. We also provide an overview of the management of OAC-associated ICH and treatment reversal strategies, including specific and nonspecific reversal agents as well as a comprehensive summary of the evidence about the resumption of DOAC and the optimal timing.

EXPERT OPINION: In the setting of an ICH, supportive care/measures are needed, and reversal of anticoagulation with specific agents (including administration of vitamin K, prothrombin complex concentrates, idarucizumab and andexanet alfa) should be considered. Most patients will likely benefit from restarting anticoagulation after an ICH and permanently withdrawn of OAC is associated with worse clinical outcomes. Although the timing of OAC resumption is still under debate, reintroduction after 4-8 weeks of the bleeding event may be possible, after a multidisciplinary approach to decision-making.

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