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Stroke. 2005 Jul;36(7):1588-93. Epub 2005 Jun 9.

Avoiding central nervous system bleeding during antithrombotic therapy: recent data and ideas.

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Department of Medicine, University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, TX 78229-3900, USA.



Approximately 7000 intracerebral hemorrhages (ICHs) annually in the US are caused by use of antithrombotic therapies. We review the incidence, risk factors, and predictors of ICH in patients receiving long-term anticoagulation or antiplatelet therapy.


ICH rates range from 0.3% to 0.6% per year during oral anticoagulation in recent reports. Major risk factors are advanced patient age, elevated blood pressure, intensity of anticoagulation, and previous cerebral ischemia. Combining antiplatelet agents with anticoagulation and the combined use of aspirin plus clopidogrel appear to increase ICH risk. Modest blood pressure-lowering halves the frequency of ICH during antiplatelet therapy.


ICH is an uncommon, but often fatal, complication of antithrombotic therapy that particularly afflicts patients with previous stroke. Recent data support that keeping international normalized ratio < or =3.0, control of hypertension, and avoiding the combination of aspirin with warfarin reduce its frequency.

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