The optimal timing of anticoagulation after ischemic stroke in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients is unknown. Our aim was to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of initiating dabigatran therapy within 14 days of transient ischemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke in AF patients.
Patients and Methods:
A prospective, multi-center registry (NCT02415855) in patients with AF treated with dabigatran within 14 days of acute ischemic stroke/TIA (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) ≤ 3) onset. Baseline and follow-up computed tomography (CT) scans were assessed for hemorrhagic transformation (HT) and graded by using European Cooperative Acute Stroke Study criteria.
One hundred and one patients, with a mean age of 72.4 ± 11.5 years, were enrolled. Median infarct volume was 0 ml. Median time from index event onset to dabigatran initiation was 2 days, and median baseline NIHSS was 1. Pre-treatment HT was present in seven patients. No patients developed symptomatic HT. On the day 7 CT scan, HT was present in six patients (one progressing from baseline hemorrhagic infarction type 1). Infarct volume was a predictor of incident HT (odds ratio = 1.063 [1.020–1.107],
p< 0.003). All six (100%) patients with new/progressive HT were functionally independent (modified Rankin Scale (mRS) = 0–2) at 30 days, which was similar to those without HT (90%, p= 0.422). Recurrent ischemic events occurred within 30 days in four patients, two of which were associated with severe disability and death (mRS 5 and 6, respectively). Conclusion:
Early dabigatran treatment did not precipitate symptomatic HT after minor stroke. Asymptomatic HT was associated with larger baseline infarct volumes. Early recurrent ischemic events may be clinically more important.