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Anticoagulant in atrial fibrillation patients with prior intracranial haemorrhage: a meta-analysis


Background The benefit of resuming anticoagulation in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients with prior intracranial haemorrhage (ICH) and which anticoagulant to choose are controversial.

Summary of review PubMed, Embase, Web of Science and the Cochrane Library were searched from their inception until 13 February 2022. Thirteen eligible articles (17 600 participants) were collected, including 11 real-world studies (n=17 296) and 2 randomised controlled trials (RCTs) (n=304). Compared with no anticoagulants, oral anticoagulation (OAC) was not associated with an increased risk of ICH recurrence (HR 0.85 (95% CI 0.57 to 1.25), p=0.41), but with a significantly increased risk of major bleeding (HR 1.66 (95% CI 1.20 to 2.30), p<0.01). Meanwhile, OAC was associated with a reduced risk of ischaemic stroke/systemic thromboembolism (IS/SE) (HR 0.54 (95% CI 0.42 to 0.70), p<0.01) and all-cause death (HR 0.38 (95% CI 0.28 to 0.52), p<0.01) compared with no anticoagulants. Furthermore, compared with warfarin, non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) were associated with a significant reduction of ICH recurrence (HR 0.64 (95% CI 0.49 to 0.85), p<0.01), while the risk of IS/SE and all-cause mortality were comparable between warfarin and NOACs.

Conclusions For patients with AF with prior ICH, OAC is associated with a significant reduction in IS/SE and all-cause mortality without increasing ICH recurrence, but may increase major bleeding risk. Compared with warfarin, NOACs had a better safety profile and comparable efficacy. Further larger RCTs are warranted to validate these findings.

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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