Background and rationale: The increasing use of oral anticoagulants, mostly to prevent ischemic stroke due to atrial fibrillation in an ageing population, has been associated with a fivefold increased incidence of oral anticoagulant-associated intracerebral hemorrhage: a rare, serious, and unpredictable complication. We hypothesize that cerebral microbleeds and other markers of cerebral small vessel disease on magnetic resonance imaging, and genetic polymorphisms (e.g. influencing cerebral small vessel integrity or anticoagulation stability), are associated with an increased risk of oral anticoagulant-associated intracerebral hemorrhage, with potential to improve risk prediction.
Aims: (1) To determine the incidence, clinical, radiological, and genetic associations of oral anticoagulant-associated intracerebral hemorrhage in a prospective, multicentre cohort study of patients with atrial fibrillation-related ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack started on oral anticoagulants; (2) To investigate characteristics of oral anticoagulant-associated intracerebral hemorrhage compared with non-oral anticoagulants related intracerebral hemorrhage in a prospective study.
Design and methods: Study 1: Prospective, multicentre, inception cohort study of 1425 adults started on oral anticoagulants (including vitamin K antagonists and the nonvitamin K oral anticoagulants) after recent ischemic stroke and concurrent atrial fibrillation. Participants will have standardized brain magnetic resonance imaging (including a T2*-weighted gradient-recalled echo sequence) and DNA sample collection at baseline, with two-year follow-up by postal questionnaire and medical records surveillance for symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage, other serious vascular events, and death. We will compare the rates of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (primary outcome; subclassified as intracerebral, subdural, extradural, intraventricular), other vascular events, and death (secondary outcomes) in participants with one or more cerebral microbleeds to the rates in those without cerebral microbleeds.
Study: Prospective case-control study of oral anticoagulant-associated intracerebral hemorrhage compared with non-oral anticoagulant-associated intracerebral hemorrhage to investigate genetic, clinical, and radiological associations with oral anticoagulant-associated intracerebral hemorrhage. In participants with intracerebral hemorrhage (including at least 300 with oral anticoagulant-associated intracerebral hemorrhage), we will collect a DNA sample, standardized clinical data and routine brain imaging (magnetic resonance imaging or computed tomography), and information on functional outcome.
Expected outcomes: We will identify the factors associated with increased intracranial hemorrhage risk after oral anticoagulants for secondary prevention after ischemic stroke due to atrial fibrillation. We will determine clinical, radiological and genetic factors, and clinical outcomes associated with oral anticoagulant-associated intracerebral hemorrhage.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02513316.
Keywords: atrial fibrillation; cerebral microbleeds; cerebral small vessel disease; intracerebral hemorrhage; oral anticoagulants.
© 2015 World Stroke Organization.