Optimal timing of oral anticoagulation (TOAC) in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF) is unknown. The risk of recurrent ischemic events when treatment is delayed is often weighed against that of hemorrhagic transformation (HT) when anticoagulation is started in the subacute phase, especially in moderate to large infarctions. Despite substantial evidence for the benefit of oral anticoagulation (OAC) in reducing stroke recurrence, current nationally recognized practice guidelines do not provide clear recommendations on the TOAC after AF-related AIS.
We surveyed neurologists on therapeutic approaches to timing of anticoagulation after stroke in patients with AF (without moderate or severe mitral stenosis or a mechanical heart valve) using an online questionnaire. Several ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke scenarios with various stroke sizes, locations, and high-risk thrombotic complications were presented, and survey respondents were asked to provide post-stroke timeframe for TOAC. Practice background, specialty and years of experience of respondents were recorded.
Majority of participants favored early initiation of OAC in small infarcts. In moderate to larger infarct burden, or when ischemia was complicated by HT, there was an overall trend to delay any initiation of OAC, irrespective of specialty or years of experience. The overt presence of an additional cardiac embolic source such as cardiac thrombus led decisions for early anticoagulation.
Although general practice trends were captured, optimal TOAC following AIS in AF remains unknown. Further research is warranted to determine optimal timing and anticoagulant selection.

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