Ticagrelor may be superior to aspirin after minor ischemic stroke or TIA, particularly in patients with symptomatic atherosclerotic disease. However, there may be an increased risk of intracerebral hemorrhage in patients with moderate to severe ischemic stroke, and ticagrelor has not been studied in this patient population. Therefore, we sought to evaluate the safety of ticagrelor after moderate or severe ischemic stroke.
Retrospective chart review of all patients admitted with acute ischemic stroke and NIHSS 6 or greater who were discharged on ticagrelor between January 2016 and December 2019. Patients who underwent angioplasty, stenting or carotid revascularization during the hospitalization were excluded.
Of 183 patients discharged on ticagrelor, 61 patients were included. Median age was 61 (IQR 52-68); 33 (54%) patients were men. Median NIHSS was 11 (IQR 8-15). Fourteen (23%) patients received IV alteplase and 35 (57%) patients received mechanical thrombectomy. Stroke mechanism was large artery atherosclerosis in 53 (87%) of patients, of which 40 (71%) were deemed intracranial atherosclerosis. Final infarct volume was greater than 10 mL in 32 (52%) patients. Follow-up information was available for 53 (87%) patients; median length of follow-up was 3 (IQR 2-6) months. Six (10%) patients experienced recurrent ischemic stroke. No patients experienced symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage after initiation of ticagrelor. One (2%) patient experienced major bleeding.
This study provides preliminary evidence supporting the potential safety of ticagrelor following moderate or severe acute ischemic stroke. These findings support the need for future prospective studies.

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