Lv M, Wu T, Jiang S, et al. Risk of Intracranial Hemorrhage Caused by Direct Oral Anticoagulants for Stroke Prevention in Patients With Atrial Fibrillation (from a Network Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials). Am J Cardiol. 2021 Oct 28. pii: S0002-9149(21)00931-0. doi: 10.1016/j.amjcard.2021.09.011. (Systematic review)

Patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) who take direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) face the risk of intracranial hemorrhage (ICH), which can be serious and even life threatening, but the risk of ICH of anticoagulants is still controversial. In this meta-analysis, we compared the risk of ICH between vitamin K antagonists (VKAs) and DOACs. Furthermore, we also compared the risk of ICH in different DOACs. PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library were searched for relevant randomized controlled trials. The outcome was ICH, shown as the odds ratio (OR) with a 95% confidence interval (CI). DOACs were ranked by calculating the surface under the cumulative ranking curve (SUCRA). We included a total of 82,404 patients with AF. DOACs reduced the ICH risk by nearly half compared with VKAs (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.54, p <0.001). VKAs were the least safe among all oral anticoagulants (SUCRA 1.7). Dabigatran 110 mg was the safest DOAC (SUCRA 87.3) for ICH risk, whereas rivaroxaban 20 mg was a relatively unsafe DOAC (SUCRA 27.5). Compared with rivaroxaban 20 mg, dabigatran 110 mg presented 53% (OR 0.47, 95% CI 0.27 to 0.82) lower relative risk for ICH. In conclusion, DOACs present less ICH risk than VKAs in patients with AF. For patients with AF who are at high risk of ICH, dabigatran 110 mg may be the safest choice among the DOACs.

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