Antithrombotic therapy for stroke prevention in non-valvular atrial fibrillation

Stroke Program, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL, USA.
The Lancet Neurology (Impact Factor: 21.82). 12/2012; 11(12):1066-81. DOI: 10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70258-2
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The world faces an epidemic of atrial fibrillation and atrial fibrillation-related stroke. An individual's risk of atrial fibrillation-related stroke can be estimated with the CHADS(2) or CHA(2)DS(2)VASc scores, and reduced by two-thirds with effective anticoagulation. Vitamin K antagonists, such as warfarin, are underused and often poorly managed. The direct thrombin inhibitor dabigatran etexilate and factor Xa inhibitors rivaroxaban and apixaban are new oral anticoagulants that are at least as efficacious and safe as warfarin. Their advantages are predictable anticoagulant effects, low propensity for drug interactions, and lower rates of intracranial haemorrhage than with warfarin. A disadvantage is the continuing need to develop and validate rapidly effective antidotes for major bleeding and standardised tests that accurately measure plasma concentrations and anticoagulant effects, together with the disadvantage of possible higher rates of gastrointestinal haemorrhage and greater expense than with warfarin. The new oral anticoagulants should increase the number of patients with atrial fibrillation at risk of stroke who are optimally anticoagulated, and reduce the burden of atrial fibrillation-related stroke.

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    ABSTRACT: Introduction. Our aim was to analyze our clinical experience with dabigatran etexilate in secondary stroke prevention. Methods. We retrospectively included patients starting dabigatran etexilate for secondary stroke prevention from March 2010 to December 2012. Efficacy and safety variables were registered. Results. 106 patients were included, median follow-up of 12 months (range 1-31). Fifty-six females (52.8%), mean age 76.4 (range 50-95, SD 9.8), median CHADS2 4 (range 2-6), CHA2DS2-VASc 5 (range 2-9), and HAS-BLED 2 (range 1-5). Indication for dabigatran etexilate was ischemic stroke in 101 patients and acute cerebral hemorrhage (CH) due to warfarin in 5 (4.7%). Dabigatran etexilate 110 mg bid was prescribed in 71 cases (67%) and 150 mg bid was prescribed in the remaining. Seventeen patients (16%) suffered 20 complications during follow-up. Ischemic complications (10) were 6 transient ischemic attacks (TIA), 3 ischemic strokes, and 1 acute coronary syndrome. Hemorrhagic complications (10) were CH (1), gastrointestinal bleeding (6), mild hematuria (2), and mild metrorrhagia (1), leading to dabigatran etexilate discontinuation in 3 patients. Patients with previous CH remained uneventful. Three patients died (pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and acute cholecystitis) and 9 were lost during follow-up. Conclusions. Dabigatran etexilate was safe and effective in secondary stroke prevention in clinical practice, including a small number of patients with previous history of CH.
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