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Original Research: Cardiovascular Disease |

Intracranial Hemorrhage and Subsequent Ischemic Stroke in Patients With Atrial FibrillationIntracranial Hemorrhage and Stroke in AF: A Nationwide Cohort Study

Peter Brønnum Nielsen, PhD; Torben Bjerregaard Larsen, MD, PhD; Anders Gorst-Rasmussen, PhD; Flemming Skjøth, PhD; Lars Hvilsted Rasmussen, MD, PhD; Gregory Y. H. Lip, MD
Author and Funding Information

From the Department of Cardiology (Drs Nielsen, Larsen, Gorst-Rasmussen, Skjøth, and Rasmussen), Atrial Fibrillation Study Group, Aalborg University Hospital, Aalborg, Denmark; Aalborg Thrombosis Research Unit (Drs Nielsen, Larsen, Gorst-Rasmussen, Skjøth, and Rasmussen and Prof Lip), Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health, Aalborg University, Aalborg, Denmark; and University of Birmingham Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences (Prof Lip), City Hospital, Birmingham, England.

CORRESPONDENCE TO: Gregory Y. H. Lip, MD, University of Birmingham Centre for Cardiovascular Sciences, City Hospital, Dudley Rd, Birmingham, B18 7QH, England; e-mail: g.y.h.lip@bham.ac.uk


FUNDING/SUPPORT: The Obel Family Foundation supported this study.

Reproduction of this article is prohibited without written permission from the American College of Chest Physicians. See online for more details.


Chest. 2015;147(6):1651-1658. doi:10.1378/chest.14-2099
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BACKGROUND:  The risk of ischemic stroke/thromboembolic events after an intracranial hemorrhage (ICH) in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) who are on warfarin treatment is poorly characterized. The aim of this study was to assess the association between the risk of ischemic stroke/thromboembolic events and ICH.

METHODS:  Linkage of three Danish nationwide administrative registries in the period between 1999 and 2012 identified patients with AF on warfarin treatment. Event-rate ratios of stroke/thromboembolic events, major bleeding, and all-cause mortality stratified by ICH were calculated, and Cox proportional hazard models were used to compare event rates among ICH survivors. A matched OR was calculated for ICH occurrences within 0 to 3 months relative to the 3 to 6 months prior to a stroke/thromboembolic event. A rate ratio of claimed warfarin prescriptions in a 3-month period pre- and post-ICH was also calculated.

RESULTS:  We studied 58,815 patients with AF (median age, 72.6 years; 60% men). When compared with the non-ICH group, the ICH group was at increased risk for stroke/systemic embolism/transient ischemic attack (TIA) (rate ratio, 3.67; 95% CI, 3.12-4.31) and mortality (rate ratio, 5.55; 95% CI, 5.20-5.92), but not for major bleeding (rate ratio, 1.06; 95% CI, 0.81-1.39). The matched OR of ICH occurrences prior to a stroke/systemic embolism/TIA was 4.33 (95% CI, 2.44-8.15). The rate ratio of claimed warfarin prescriptions post- and pre-ICH event was 0.28 (95% CI, 0.24-0.33).

CONCLUSIONS:  In this large-scale study of patients with AF treated with warfarin, first-time ICH was associated with an increased rate of ischemic stroke/systemic embolism/TIA and mortality compared with the non-ICH group. There was a decrease in the warfarin-prescription purchase rate in the post-ICH period compared with pre-ICH, which may partly explain the excess risk.

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