HOUSTON (FRONTLINE MEDICAL NEWS) – Even when patients on an oral anticoagulant have the dreaded complication of an intracerebral hemorrhage, resumption of their oral anticoagulation regimen appears to produce the best midterm outcomes, based on a meta-analysis of data from more than 1,000 patients collected in three observational studies.

Resumption of oral anticoagulation therapy (OAT) is a “major dilemma” when managing patients who developed an intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) while on OAT, said Alessandro Biffi, MD , explaining why he performed this meta-analysis that he presented at the International Stroke Conference sponsored by the American Heart Association.

Although the results showed that patients who resumed OAT following an on-treatment ICH had their subsequent 1-year mortality cut by more than 70% and their 1-year stroke risk halved, compared with patients who did not resume OAT, Dr. Biffi acknowledged the strong limitations of these observational data and the need for a prospective, randomized trial to definitively address the issue. The suggestive findings from the analysis “strongly support” the need for a prospective trial to better assess the benefit and risk from OAT resumption following ICH, said Dr. Biffi, a neurologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

He used individual patient data collected from a total of 1,027 patients enrolled in any of three different observational studies: the German-wide Multicenter Analysis of Oral Anticoagulation Associated Intracerebral Hemorrhage ( RETRACE ) study, the MGH longitudinal ICH study , or the Ethnic/Racial Variations of Intracerebral Hemorrhage ( ERICH ) study. Overall 26% of the patients resumed OAT following their ICH, although the rate ranged from a low of 20% in one study to a high of 42% in another. The vast majority of patients received a vitamin K antagonist as their anticoagulant; very few received a new oral anticoagulant.

Using propensity score matching to compare similar patients who resumed or stayed off OAT, Dr. Biffi found that, during the year following the index ICH, mortality was 71%-74% lower among patients who resumed OAT. Recurrent all-cause stroke was 49%-55% lower with resumed OAT, and favorable functional outcomes (a score of 0-3 on the modified Rankin scale) were more than fourfold higher with OAT resumption, he reported .

Dr. Biffi calculated these relative rates, both for patients with a lumbar location of their ICH and for those with a nonlumbar location, and found that location had no influence on responsiveness to OAT. Patients with an index ICH in a lumbar location had a trend toward more recurrent ICH on OAT, a 26% higher rate relative to patients not resumed on OAT, but this difference fell short of statistical significance.

The only factor he found that linked with whether or not patients resumed OAT was the severity of their index ICH. The more severe their bleed, the less likely were patients to resume. Aside from that, “there is a lot of variation in practice,” he said. “We are gathering additional data” to try to further address this question.

Dr. Biffi had no disclosures.

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