Management of acute stroke in patients on oral anticoagulants

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Purpose of review

An increasing number of patients are receiving oral anticoagulants. Since non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) were approved, primary prevention of ischemic stroke has become simpler. However, managing ischemic stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage while on oral anticoagulation (OAC) has become more complex. This review covers the latest developments in managing ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke in patients receiving vitamin K antagonists (VKA) and NOACs.

Recent findings

Testing coagulation in patients with acute ischemic stroke and receiving NOACs is complex, and observational data challenge guideline recommendations. Initial registry and cohort data support the safety of endovascular therapy despite OAC. In intracerebral hemorrhage, rapid reversal of VKA can be achieved better with prothrombin complex concentrates than with fresh frozen plasma. Furthermore, rapid reversal seems to be associated with less hematoma expansion and better functional outcome. In addition, new evidence strongly supports resuming OAC after intracerebral hemorrhage. The unfavorable properties of NOAC-related intracerebral hemorrhage are similar to those associated with VKA.


Translation of recent findings might improve both outcome in acute ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke in patients on oral anticoagulants and help refine clinical management. Data from randomized clinical trials are scarce.

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