Main Article Content
The balance between the risk of early stroke recurrence and hemorrhagic transformation represents the cornerstone of practical management of non-valvular atrial fibrillation (NVAF)-related acute ischemic stroke (AIS). Patients who receive antithrombotic therapy as secondary prevention in the early phase of NVAF-related AIS have a better prognosis compared with patients who do not receive antithrombotic treatment. Recently, the RAF study showed that the best efficacy/safety profile was associated with anticoagulation started between 4 and 14 days from stroke onset. Based on the RAF study, the 2018 American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA) guidelines suggest starting anticoagulants between 4 and 14 days from stroke onset with a class of recommendation IIa. Strong evidence for the use of direct oral anticoagulants (DOACs) in the early phase of NVAF-related AIS is lacking, because this kind of patients were excluded from phase III randomized clinical trials (RCT) and ad hoc RCTs are ongoing. However, the real life evidence suggests that early starting time of DOACs in patients with NVAF-related AIS is safe and associated with low recurrence risk and all-cause mortality. In the present review the Authors provide an update on anticoagulation in the early phase of NVAF-related AIS with focus on DOACs.