Management of therapeutic anticoagulation in patients with intracerebral haemorrhage and mechanical heart valves

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Evidence is lacking regarding acute anticoagulation management in patients after intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) with implanted mechanical heart valves (MHVs). Our objective was to investigate anticoagulation reversal and resumption strategies by evaluating incidences of haemorrhagic and thromboembolic complications, thereby defining an optimal time-window when to restart therapeutic anticoagulation (TA) in patients with MHV and ICH.

Methods and results

We pooled individual patient-data (n = 2504) from a nationwide multicentre cohort-study (RETRACE, conducted at 22 German centres) and eventually identified MHV-patients (n = 137) with anticoagulation-associated ICH for outcome analyses. The primary outcome consisted of major haemorrhagic complications analysed during hospital stay according to treatment exposure (restarted TA vs. no-TA). Secondary outcomes comprised thromboembolic complications, the composite outcome (haemorrhagic and thromboembolic complications), timing of TA, and mortality. Adjusted analyses involved propensity-score matching and multivariable cox-regressions to identify optimal timing of TA. In 66/137 (48%) of patients TA was restarted, being associated with increased haemorrhagic (TA = 17/66 (26%) vs. no-TA = 4/71 (6%); P < 0.01) and a trend to decreased thromboembolic complications (TA = 1/66 (2%) vs. no-TA = 7/71 (10%); P = 0.06). Controlling treatment crossovers provided an incidence rate-ratio [hazard ratio (HR) 10.31, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.67-35.70; P < 0.01] in disadvantage of TA for haemorrhagic complications. Analyses of TA-timing displayed significant harm until Day 13 after ICH (HR 7.06, 95% CI 2.33-21.37; P < 0.01). The hazard for the composite—balancing both complications, was increased for restarted TA until Day 6 (HR 2.51, 95% CI 1.10-5.70; P = 0.03).


Restarting TA within less than 2 weeks after ICH in patients with MHV was associated with increased haemorrhagic complications. Optimal weighing—between least risks for thromboembolic and haemorrhagic complications—provided an earliest starting point of TA at Day 6, reserved only for patients at high thromboembolic risk.

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