New horizons: managing antithrombotic dilemmas in patients with cerebral amyloid angiopathy

James Kelly
Age and Ageing 2021 January 22
Cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) most commonly presents with lobar intracerebral haemorrhage, though also with transient focal neurological episodes, cognitive impairment, as an incidental finding and rarely acutely or subacutely in patients developing an immune response to amyloid. Convexity subarachnoid haemorrhage, cortical superficial siderosis and lobar cerebral microbleeds are the other signature imaging features. The main implications of a diagnosis are the risk of intracerebral haemorrhage and frequent co-existence of antithrombotic indications. The risk of intracerebral haemorrhage varies by phenotype, being highest in patients with transient focal neurological episodes and lowest in patients with isolated microbleeds. There is only one relevant randomised controlled trial to CAA patients with antithrombotic indications: RESTART showed that in patients presenting with intracerebral haemorrhage while taking antiplatelets, restarting treatment appeared to reduce recurrent intracerebral haemorrhage and improve outcomes. Observational and indirect data are reviewed relevant to other scenarios where there are antithrombotic indications. In patients with a microbleed-only phenotype, the risk of ischaemic stroke exceeds the risk of intracerebral haemorrhage at all cerebral microbleed burdens. In patients with atrial fibrillation (AF), left atrial appendage occlusion, where device closure excludes the left atrial appendage from the circulation, can be considered where the risk of anticoagulation seems prohibitive. Ongoing trials are testing the role of direct oral anticoagulant (DOACs) and left atrial appendage occlusion in patients with intracerebral haemorrhage/AF but in the interim, treatment decisions will need to be individualised and remain difficult.

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