Intracerebral haemorrhage, microbleeds and antithrombotic drugs

B Casolla, C Cordonnier
Revue Neurologique 2020 July 31
Antithrombotic therapy is a cornerstone for secondary prevention of ischaemic events, cerebral and extra-cerebral. A number of clinical questions remain unanswered concerning the impact of antithrombotic drugs on the risk of first-ever and recurrent macro or micro cerebral haemorrhages, raising the clinical dilemma on the risk/benefit balance of giving antiplatelets and anticoagulants in patients with potential high risk of brain bleeds. High field magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) blood-weighted sequences, including susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI), have expanded the spectrum of these clinical questions, because of their increasing sensitivity in detecting radiological markers of small vessel disease. This review will summarise the literature, focusing on four main clinical questions: how do cerebral microbleeds impact the risk of cerebrovascular events in healthy patients, in patients with previous ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack, and in patients with intracerebral haemorrhage? Is the risk/benefit balance of oral anticoagulants shifted by the presence of microbleeds in patients with atrial fibrillation after recent ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack? Should we restart antiplatelet drugs after symptomatic intracerebral haemorrhage or not? Are oral anticoagulants allowed in patients with a history of atrial fibrillation and previous intracerebral haemorrhage?

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