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Arch Neurol. 2000 Dec;57(12):1710-3.

Safety of discontinuation of anticoagulation in patients with intracranial hemorrhage at high thromboembolic risk.

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Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, W8B, 200 SW First St, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.



Limited data are available to guide the management of anticoagulation in patients with intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) at high thromboembolic risk.


To review the management of anticoagulation in patients with ICH at high thromboembolic risk.


We reviewed the management of anticoagulation in 141 patients who have a high risk of ischemic stroke and have ICH while taking warfarin. The 30-day risk of ischemic stroke while not taking anticoagulation treatment was determined using Kaplan-Meier survival estimates.


The indications for anticoagulation were a prosthetic heart valve (52 patients [group 1]), atrial fibrillation and cardioembolic stroke (53 patients [group 2]), and a recurrent transient ischemic attack or an ischemic stroke (36 patients [group 3]). A prior ischemic stroke occurred in 14 (27%) of group 1 patients and in 23 (43%) of group 2 patients. Death occurred in 43% of the 141 patients. The median time not taking warfarin in this cohort was 10 days. Three patients had an ischemic stroke within 30 days of warfarin therapy discontinuation. Using Kaplan-Meier survival estimates, the probability of having an ischemic stroke at 30 days following warfarin therapy cessation in groups 1, 2, and 3 was 2.9% (95% confidence interval, 0%-8.0%), 2.6% (95% confidence interval, 0%-7.6%), and 4.8% (95% confidence interval, 0%-13.6%), respectively. In the 35 patients who had warfarin therapy restarted, none had recurrence of ICH during the same hospitalization.


Discontinuation of warfarin therapy for 1 to 2 weeks has a comparatively low probability of embolic events in patients at high embolic risk. This should be taken into consideration when deciding whether to continue or discontinue anticoagulation in these patients at high embolic risk. Early recurrence of ICH is exceedingly uncommon.

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