Compared with warfarin, the direct oral anticoagulant apixaban reduces the risk of stroke or systemic embolism, intracranial haemorrhage, and case fatality in patients with atrial fibrillation. Compared with aspirin, apixaban reduces the risk of stroke or systemic embolism in patients with atrial fibrillation, and has a similar risk of intracerebral haemorrhage. Novel oral anticoagulants have not been evaluated in patients with atrial fibrillation and a recent intracerebral haemorrhage. To inform a phase III trial, the phase II Apixaban versus Antiplatelet drugs or no antithrombotic drugs after anticoagulation-associated intraCerebral HaEmorrhage in patients with Atrial Fibrillation (APACHE-AF) trial aims to obtain estimates of the rates of vascular death or non-fatal stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation and a recent anticoagulation-associated intracerebral haemorrhage treated with apixaban and in those in whom oral anticoagulation is avoided.
APACHE-AF is a phase II, multicentre, open-label, parallel-group, randomised clinical trial with masked outcome assessment. One hundred adults with a history of atrial fibrillation and a recent intracerebral haemorrhage during treatment with anticoagulation in whom clinical equipoise exists on the optimal stroke prevention strategy will be enrolled in 14 hospitals in The Netherlands. These patients will be randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to either apixaban or to avoiding oral anticoagulation. Patients in the control group may be treated with antiplatelet drugs at the discretion of the treating physician. The primary outcome is the composite of vascular death or non-fatal stroke during follow-up. We aim to include 100 patients in 2.5 years. All patients will be followed-up for the duration of the study, but at least for 1 year. Recruitment commenced in September 2014 and is ongoing. This trial is funded by the Dutch Heart Foundation (2012 T077) and ZonMW (015008048) 1).