Prescription frequency and predictors for the use of novel direct oral anticoagulants for secondary stroke prevention in the first year after their marketing in Europe – a multicentric evaluation


  • Conflict of interest: We did not receive funding for this study. Dr Kraft has received a travel grant from Bayer Healthcare. Professor Neumann-Haefelin has received speaker's honoraria from Boehringer Ingelheim and Bayer Healthcare. Professor Kleinschnitz has received personal compensation from Bayer Healthcare, Boehringer Ingelheim, and BMS/Pfizer. Dr Foerch received a research grant from Boehringer Ingelheim for investigating Dabigatran in an experimental TBI model. All other authors have no disclosures.



Direct oral anticoagulants (DOAC) are alternatives to the use of vitamin K antagonists (VKA) as oral anticoagulant therapies to prevent stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation.


We assembled a representative secondary prevention cohort from four tertiary care stroke centers to identify factors that independently influence therapeutic decision making 1) not to anticoagulate with either VKA or DOAC and 2) to use DOAC if the patient appears suitable for oral anticoagulant therapy.


We identified all patients discharged with the diagnoses ‘ischemic stroke’ (ICD-10 code I63) or ‘transient ischemic attack’ (G45) in combination with ‘atrial fibrillation’ (I48) during 1 year. We performed binary logistic regression analyses to identify factors independently influencing the aforementioned decisions.


Our cohort comprised 758 patients. At discharge from the stroke service, 374 patients (49·3%) received oral anticoagulant therapy. Older age, severe stroke, poor recovery in the acute phase, and higher serum creatinine were independent factors to withhold oral anticoagulant therapy, whereas prior oral anticoagulant therapy favored the decision to anticoagulate. Among patients who were anticoagulated, prescription was balanced for VKA (50·3%) and DOAC (49·7%). Renal function and prior oral anticoagulant therapies were the most important factors in this decision.


Shortly after their marketing, DOAC are used as frequently as VKA for secondary stroke prevention in patients with atrial fibrillation. The decision between VKA and DOAC is mainly determined by the patient's renal function and the absence or presence of prior oral anticoagulant therapy.