Objective: The aim was to evaluate, in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) and acute ischemic stroke, the association of prior anticoagulation with vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) or direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) with stroke severity, utilization of intravenous thrombolysis (IVT), safety of IVT, and 3-month outcomes.
Methods: This was a cohort study of consecutive patients (2014-2019) on anticoagulation versus those without (controls) with regard to stroke severity, rates of IVT/mechanical thrombectomy, symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (sICH), and favorable outcome (modified Rankin Scale score 0-2) at 3 months.
Results: Of 8,179 patients (mean [SD] age, 79.8 [9.6] years; 49% women), 1,486 (18%) were on VKA treatment, 1,634 (20%) on DOAC treatment at stroke onset, and 5,059 controls. Stroke severity was lower in patients on DOACs (median National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale 4, [interquartile range 2-11]) compared with VKA (6, [2-14]) and controls (7, [3-15], p < 0.001; quantile regression: β -2.1, 95% confidence interval [CI] -2.6 to -1.7). The IVT rate in potentially eligible patients was significantly lower in patients on VKA (156 of 247 [63%]; adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 0.67; 95% CI 0.50-0.90) and particularly in patients on DOACs (69 of 464 [15%]; aOR 0.06; 95% CI 0.05-0.08) compared with controls (1,544 of 2,504 [74%]). sICH after IVT occurred in 3.6% (2.6-4.7%) of controls, 9 of 195 (4.6%; 1.9-9.2%; aOR 0.93; 95% CI 0.46-1.90) patients on VKA and 2 of 65 (3.1%; 0.4-10.8%, aOR 0.56; 95% CI 0.28-1.12) of those on DOACs. After adjustments for prognostic confounders, DOAC pretreatment was associated with a favorable 3-month outcome (aOR 1.24; 1.01-1.51).
Interpretation: Prior DOAC therapy in patients with AF was associated with decreased admission stroke severity at onset and a remarkably low rate of IVT. Overall, patients on DOAC might have better functional outcome at 3 months. Further research is needed to overcome potential restrictions for IVT in patients taking DOACs. ANN NEUROL 2021;89:42-53.
© 2020 The Authors. Annals of Neurology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Neurological Association.