Microbleeds and the Effect of Anticoagulation in Patients with Embolic Stroke of Undetermined Source: An Exploratory Analysis of the NAVIGATE ESUS Randomized Clinical Trial

Ashkan Shoamanesh, Robert G. Hart, Stuart J. Connolly, Scott E. Kasner, Eric E. Smith, Joan Martí-Fàbregas, Yan Yun Liu, Shinichiro Uchiyama, Robert Mikulik, Roland Veltkamp, Martin J. O'Donnell, George Ntaios, Keith W. Muir, Thalia S. Field, Gustavo C. Santo, Veronica Olavarria, Hardi Mundl, Helmi Lutsep, Scott D. Berkowitz, Mukul Sharma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Importance: The reported associations of cerebral microbleeds with recurrent stroke and intracerebral hemorrhage have raised concerns regarding antithrombotic treatment in patients with a history of stroke and microbleeds on magnetic resonance imaging. Objective: To characterize microbleeds in embolic strokes of undetermined source (ESUS) and report interactions between microbleeds and the effects of random assignment to anticoagulant vs antiplatelet therapy. Design, Setting, and Participants: Subgroup analyses of the New Approach Rivaroxaban Inhibition of Factor Xa in a Global Trial vs Aspirin to Prevent Embolism in ESUS (NAVIGATE ESUS) international, double-blind, randomized, event-driven phase 3 clinical trial. Participants were enrolled between December 2014 and September 2017 and followed up for a median of 11 months. The study setting included 459 stroke recruitment centers in 31 countries. Patients aged 50 years or older who had neuroimaging-confirmed ESUS between 7 days and 6 months before screening were eligible. Of these 7213 NAVIGATE ESUS participants, 3699 (51%) had information on cerebral microbleeds reported on their baseline clinical magnetic resonance imaging and were eligible for these analyses. Patients with a prior history of symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage were excluded from the NAVIGATE ESUS trial. Interventions: Rivaroxaban, 15 mg, compared with aspirin, 100 mg, daily. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary outcome was recurrent stroke. Secondary outcomes were ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, and all-cause mortality. Results: Microbleeds were present in 395 of 3699 participants (11%). Of patients with cerebral microbleeds, mean (SD) age was 69.5 (9.4) years, 241 were men (61%), and 201 were White (51%). Advancing age (odds ratio [OR] per year, 1.03; 95% CI, 1.01-1.04), East Asian race/ethnicity (OR, 1.57; 95% CI, 1.04-2.37), hypertension (OR, 2.20; 95% CI, 1.54-3.15), multiterritorial infarcts (OR, 1.95; 95% CI, 1.42-2.67), chronic infarcts (OR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.42-2.23), and occult intracerebral hemorrhage (OR, 5.23; 95% CI, 2.76-9.90) were independently associated with microbleeds. The presence of microbleeds was associated with a 1.5-fold increased risk of recurrent stroke (hazard ratio [HR], 1.5; 95% CI, 1.0-2.3), a 4-fold risk of intracerebral hemorrhage (HR, 4.2; 95% CI, 1.3-13.9), a 2-fold risk of all-cause mortality (HR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.1-4.3), and strictly lobar microbleeds with an approximately 2.5-fold risk of ischemic stroke (HR, 2.3; 95% CI, 1.3-4.3). There were no interactions between microbleeds and treatment assignments for recurrent stroke, ischemic stroke, or all-cause mortality. The HR of intracerebral hemorrhage on rivaroxaban was similar between persons with microbleeds (HR, 3.1; 95% CI, 0.3-30.0) and persons without microbleeds (HR, 3.0; 95% CI, 0.6-14.7; interaction P =.97). Conclusions and Relevance: Microbleeds mark an increased risk of recurrent stroke, ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, and mortality in ESUS but do not appear to influence effects of rivaroxaban on clinical outcomes. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT02313909.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-20
Number of pages10
JournalJAMA Neurology
Volume78
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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