What is the role of anticoagulation in the treatment of ischemic stroke?

Updated: May 27, 2020
  • Author: Edward C Jauch, MD, MS, FAHA, FACEP; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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Currently, data are inadequate to justify the routine use of heparin or other anticoagulants in the acute management of ischemic stroke. [124] Patients with embolic stroke who have another indication for anticoagulation (eg, atrial fibrillation) may be placed on anticoagulation therapy nonemergently, with the goal of preventing further embolic disease; however, the potential benefits of that intervention must be weighed against the risk of hemorrhagic transformation. [1] For more information, see Stroke Anticoagulation and Prophylaxis.

Immobilized stroke patients in particular are at increased risk of developing deep venous thrombosis (DVT) and should receive early efforts to reduce the occurrence of DVT. The use of low-dose, subcutaneous unfractionated or low–molecular-weight heparin may be appropriate in these cases. [1] The CLOTS (Clots in Legs Or sTockings after Stroke) trial demonstrated that intermittent pneumatic compression of the lower extremities, started in the first 3 hospital days, reduced the risk of DVT in immobile patients with acute stroke. [125]

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