We conducted a retrospective, multicenter study to compare the efficacy of warfarin with aspirin for the prevention of major vascular events (ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, or sudden death) in patients with symptomatic stenosis of a major intracranial artery. Patients with 50 to 99% stenosis of an intracranial artery (carotid; anterior, middle, or posterior cerebral; vertebral; or basilar) were identified by reviewing the results of consecutive angiograms performed at participating centers between 1985 and 1991. Only patients with TIA or stroke in the territory of the stenotic artery qualified for inclusion in the study. Patients were prescribed warfarin or aspirin according to local physician preference and were followed by chart review and personal or telephone interview. Seven centers enrolled 151 patients; 88 were treated with warfarin and 63 were treated with aspirin. Median follow-up was 14.7 months (warfarin group) and 19.3 months (aspirin group). Vascular risk factors and mean percent stenosis of the symptomatic artery were similar in the two groups, yet the rates of major vascular events were 18.1 per 100 patient-years of follow-up in the aspirin group (stroke rate, 10.4/100 patient-years; myocardial infarction or sudden death rate, 7.7/100 patient-years) compared with 8.4 per 100 patient-years of follow-up in the warfarin group (stroke rate, 3.6/100 patient-years; myocardial infarction or sudden death rate, 4.8/100 patient-years). Kaplan-Meier analysis showed a significantly higher percentage of patients free of major vascular events among patients treated with warfarin (p = 0.01). The relative risk of a major vascular event in those treated with warfarin was 0.46 (95% CI, 0.23 to 0.86) compared with patients treated with aspirin. Major hemorrhagic complications occurred in three patients on warfarin (including two deaths) during 166 patient-years of follow-up and in none of the patients on aspirin during 143 patient-years of follow-up. This study suggests a favorable risk/benefit ratio for warfarin compared with aspirin for the prevention of major vascular events in patients with symptomatic intracranial large-artery stenosis. A prospective, randomized study is needed to confirm these findings.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology