Ischemic and Hemorrhagic Stroke in Patients on Oral Anticoagulants After Reconstruction for Chronic Lower Limb Ischemia

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Background and Purpose

Information on the long-term fate of patients with chronic lower limb ischemia is limited. We investigated the long-term risk of the first ischemic and hemorrhagic cerebral stroke in patients on long-term anticoagulant therapy after reconstruction for chronic limb ischemia.


In a retrospective study, 376 consecutive patients were seen at regular intervals according to a standard protocol. Only 3 (0.7%) were lost during follow-up (mean duration, 5.9 years). Anticoagulation was with coumarin derivatives followed by prothrombin times periodically. Primary end points were ischemic and hemorrhagic cerebral stroke events, which were confirmed by CT scan, autopsy, or operation in 85% of the cases. Major vascular events were analyzed as a composite secondary end point. The influence of several clinical variables on these outcome events was evaluated in univariate and multivariate analyses.


Thirty-nine patients (10%) had 41 stroke events (23 ischemic, 18 hemorrhagic); 22 of these patients (56%) died from stroke. The cumulative ischemic stroke risk was 5% at 5 years and 12% at 15 years. Prior myocardial infarction was the only independent predictor (relative risk [RR], 3.1; P<05). The cumulative hemorrhagic stroke risk was 3% at 5 years and 17% at 15 years. Systolic hypertension (RR, 4.8; P<.01) and insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (RR, 5.4; P<.01) were significant and independent predictors. The risk for a major vascular event was 29% at 5 years and increased to 56% at 15 years. Independent predictors were advanced age (RR, 1.4; P<.005), insulin-dependent diabetes (RR, 2.2; P<.005), and prior myocardial infarction (RR, 1.8; P<.01).


Patients with chronic lower limb ischemia, notably those with prior myocardial infarction, are at high risk for ischemic stroke. Those with systolic hypertension or insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus are at high risk for hemorrhagic stroke. (Stroke. 1993;24:1655-1663.)

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