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Acute Stroke Despite Dabigatran Anticoagulation Treated with Idarucizumab and Intravenous Tissue Plasminogen Activator


Dabigatran is a direct thrombin inhibitor used to reduce the risk of stroke in patients with nonvalvular atrial fibrillation. For patients who present with an acute stroke despite dabigatran therapy, clinical data on the use of intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IV-tPA) is limited. There is an anticipated increased risk of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage (sICH) when using IV-tPA in patients on dabigatran therapy. In 2015, the humanized monoclonal antibody fragment idarucizumab was approved for rapid (minutes) reversal of anticoagulant effects of dabigatran. Dabigatran reversal with idarucizumab before administration of IV-tPA might reduce the risk of sICH. We report a case of a 69-year-old stroke patient on dabigatran for paroxysmal atrial fibrillation who presented with an initial National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) of 12. There was no early evidence of ischemic stroke or hemorrhage on head computed tomography, and coagulation studies implied therapeutic dabigatran levels. After controlling blood pressure, dabigatran was reversed with idarucizumab, and IV-tPA was administrated beginning 197 minutes after he was last seen at his baseline. Subsequent brain magnetic resonance imaging showed 2 punctate infarcts in the left temporal lobe and occipital lobe with no evidence of hemorrhage. The patient was discharged with an NIHSS of 1. Telephone follow-up 2 months later indicated that he was at his prestroke baseline, except for a complaint of worsened short-term memory. Idarucizumab reversal of dabigatran may reduce the risk of sICH and should be considered for acute stroke patients arriving in the IV-tPA time window.

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