Background and purpose: The optimum timing of resumption of anticoagulation after warfarin-related intracranial hemorrhage in patients with indication for continued anticoagulation is uncertain. We performed a large retrospective cohort study to obtain more precise risk estimates.
Methods: We reviewed charts of 2869 consecutive patients with objectively verified intracranial hemorrhage over 6 years at 3 tertiary centers. We calculated the daily risk of intracranial hemorrhage or ischemic stroke with and without resumption of warfarin; we focused on patients who survived the first week and had cardiac indication for anticoagulation or previous stroke. Using a Cox model, we estimated rates for these 2 adverse events in relation to different time points of resumed anticoagulation. The combined risk of either a new intracranial hemorrhage or an ischemic stroke was calculated for a range of warfarin resumption times.
Results: We identified warfarin-associated intracranial hemorrhage in 234 patients (8.2%), of whom 177 patients (76%) survived the first week and had follow-up information available; the median follow-up time was 69 weeks (interquartile range [IQR] 19-144). Fifty-nine patients resumed warfarin after a median of 5.6 weeks (IQR 2.6-17). The hazard ratio for recurrent intracranial hemorrhage with resumption of warfarin was 5.6 (95% CI, 1.8-17.2), and for ischemic stroke it was 0.11 (95% CI, 0.014-0.89). The combined risk of recurrent intracranial hemorrhage or ischemic stroke reached a nadir if warfarin was resumed after approximately 10 to 30 weeks.
Conclusions: The optimal timing for resumption of warfarin therapy appears to be between 10 and 30 weeks after warfarin-related intracranial hemorrhage.