Management of oral anticoagulation in very old patients with non valvular atrial fibrillation related acute ischemic stroke

  • Vieri Vannucchi
  • Federico Moroni
  • Elisa Grifoni
  • Rossella Marcucci
  • Giancarlo Landini
  • Domenico Prisco
  • Luca MasottiEmail author


The optimal management of oral anticoagulation (OAC) in the acute phase of non valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF)-related acute ischemic stroke (AIS) remains controversial, especially in very old patients. Therefore, the aim of our study was to evaluate the practical management of OAC in this context. We conducted an observational retrospective study on patients 85-years old and older admitted to two Italian hospitals for NVAF-related AIS. For each patient, clinical and brain computed tomography data were recorded. Type of OAC (vitamin K antagonists, VKAs or Direct Oral Anticoagulants, DOACs), dosage and starting day after AIS were registered. For each patient 90-day all cause mortality, stroke recurrence, any bleeding and modified Rankin scale (mRS) were reported. One-hundred-seventeen patients, with mean age 89.2 ± 3.4 years, were enrolled. In-hospital and 90-day mortality (out of 109 patients) were 6% and 19.7%, respectively. OAC was started in 93 patients (80.5%), on average after 6 ± 3 days from the acute event. Of them, 88 patients (94.6%) received DOACs, while 5 (5.4%) received VKAs. Patients receiving OAC were significantly younger and suffering from less severe stroke compared with patients who did not receive OAC. Patients receiving OAC presented a reduced in-hospital (2.2% vs. 20.8%, p < 0.004) and 90-day all-cause mortality (9.4% vs. 62.5%, p < 0.001). In patients receiving DOACs, low dosages were used in 87.5% of patients. The use of OAC was not associated with an increased rate of hemorrhagic transformation (HT) during hospitalization (13.2% vs. 9.5%, p = 0.54) or any bleeding at 90-day follow-up. Severe dysphagia and mRS ≥ 4 were found to be independent risk factors for not prescribing OAC. The optimal management of OAC in very old patients suffering from NVAF-related AIS remains a dilemma. In our real world study the majority of patients received OAC as secondary prevention treatment without increase in bleeding risk. Dysphagia and severe disability were independent factors for not prescribing OAC. Further investigations aimed at identifying the optimal approach to OAC during the acute phase of NVAF-related ischemic stroke in this subgroup of patients are warranted.


Oral anticoagulation Acute ischemic stroke Atrial fibrillation Elderly 



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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Internal MedicineSanta Maria Nuova HospitalFlorenceItaly
  2. 2.Internal Medicine IISan Giuseppe HospitalEmpoliItaly
  3. 3.Department of Experimental and Clinical MedicineUniversity of FlorenceFlorenceItaly

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