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Anticoagulants for cancer-associated ischemic stroke

1 Department of Neurology, Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation, Hualien, Taiwan
2 Department of Neurology, Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, Buddhist Tzu Chi Medical Foundation; School of Medicine, Tzu Chi University, Hualien, Taiwan

Correspondence Address:
An-Bang Liu,
Department of Neurology, Hualien Tzu Chi Hospital, Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation, 707, Section 3, Chung-Yang Road, Hualien
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/tcmj.tcmj_55_19

Patients with cancer-associated ischemic stroke pose similar clinical manifestations and image characteristics, mainly embolic infarction, as patients with atrial fibrillation do. D-dimer, a degraded product of fibrin polymer, is a useful indicator of hypercoagulability, which frequently increases in cancer-associated stroke, but not in stroke resulted from atrial fibrillation. The level of serum D-dimer is associated with mortality, prognosis, and recurrence of systemic thromboembolism in these patients. Theoretically, drugs block coagulation cascade, such as heparin and low-molecular-weight-heparin (LMWH), oral direct anticoagulants, could attenuate the status of hypercoagulation and decrease the amount of D-dimer. These drugs may be helpful to prevent thromboembolic events in patients with cancer-associated hypercoagulability. Vitamin K antagonist, warfarin, decreases the production of coagulation factors, but not interrupts coagulation cascade may not be helpful to decrease hypercoagulability, but increase the risk of bleeding. However, the treatment of cancer-associated embolic stroke is still controversial. This article reviews relevant clinical studies and proposes the applicability of direct oral anticoagulants from the pathophysiological mechanism.

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