Fibrinogen degradation coagulopathy and bleeding complications after stroke thrombolysis

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Abstract

Objective:

Prominent fibrinogen cleavage by recombinant tissue plasminogen activator and formation of fibrinogen degradation products with anticoagulant properties was proposed to amplify the risk of thrombolysis-related bleeding complications, but supportive evidence mainly derived from studies on myocardial infarction.

Methods:

This study included 547 consecutive stroke patients treated with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator, who underwent repeated assessment of fibrinogen levels before and 6 hours after thrombolysis. Symptomatic intracranial hemorrhages were ascertained using National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke criteria.

Results:

Intracranial hemorrhage or systemic bleeding events manifested in 47 patients (8.6%). A decrease ≥200 mg/dL in the fibrinogen level 6 hours after thrombolysis emerged as a significant and independent predictor for bleeding risk (multivariable odds ratio [95% confidence interval] 4.53 [2.39–8.60], p < 0.001). The population-attributable risk was 39.9% (95% confidence interval, 19.0–60.2) for any major bleeding, causality assumed, and surpassed 50% in patients with less severe strokes (NIH Stroke Scale score ≤16). Quantification of fibrinogen depletion after stroke thrombolysis significantly improved routine risk prediction of bleeding complications as indicated by an increase in the C-statistics from 0.712 to 0.798 (p = 0.015) and a net reclassification index of 0.341 (p < 0.001). A prospective bicenter validation sample (n = 148) corroborates the key findings of this study and suggests positive and negative predictive values of fibrinogen depletion for any major bleeding of 29.2% and 93.5%.

Conclusion:

This study lends strong support to the concept that prominent fibrinogen turnover after IV stroke thrombolysis—a condition termed “early fibrinogen degradation coagulopathy”—is a relevant cause of major bleeding complications. Rigorous testing of more fibrin-specific thrombolytic agents in the setting of acute stroke is warranted.

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