Recanalisation therapies for acute ischaemic stroke in patients on direct oral anticoagulants

Direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) have emerged as primary therapeutic option for stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation. However, patients may have ischaemic stroke despite DOAC therapy and there is uncertainty whether those patients can safely receive intravenous thrombolysis or mechanical thrombectomy. In this review, we summarise and discuss current knowledge about different approaches to select patient. Time since last DOAC intake—as a surrogate for anticoagulant activity—is easy to use but limited by interindividual variability of drug pharmacokinetics and long cut-offs (>48 hours). Measuring anticoagulant activity using drug-specific coagulation assays showed promising safety results. Large proportion of patients at low anticoagulant activity seem to be potentially treatable but there remains uncertainty about exact safe cut-off values and limited assay availability. The use of specific reversal agents (ie, idarucizumab or andexanet alfa) prior to thrombolysis is a new emerging option with first data reporting safety but issues including health economics need to be elucidated. Mechanical thrombectomy appears to be safe without any specific selection criteria applied. In patients on DOAC therapy with large vessel occlusion, decision for intravenous thrombolysis should not delay thrombectomy (eg, direct thrombectomy or immediate transfer to a thrombectomy-capable centre recommended). Precision medicine using a tailored approach combining clinicoradiological information (ie, penumbra and vessel status), anticoagulant activity and use of specific reversal agents only if necessary seems a reasonable choice.

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