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Mortality after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) is augmented by rebleeding and delayed cerebral ischemia (DCI). A range of assays evaluating the dynamic process of blood coagulation, from activation of clotting factors to fibrinolysis, has emerged and a comprehensive review of hemostasis and fibrinolysis following aSAH may reveal targets of treatment. We conducted a systematic review of existing literature assessing coagulation and fibrinolysis following aSAH, but prior to treatment. PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science were searched on November 18, 2020, without time boundaries. In total, 45 original studies were eventually incorporated into this systematic review, divided into studies presenting data only from conventional or quantitative assays (n = 22) and studies employing dynamic assays (n = 23). Data from conventional or quantitative assays indicated increased platelet activation, whereas dynamic assays detected platelet dysfunction possibly related to an increased risk of rebleeding. Secondary hemostasis was activated in conventional, quantitative, and dynamic assays and this was related to poor neurological outcome and mortality. Studies systematically investigating fibrinolysis were sparse. Measurements from conventional or quantitative assays, as well as dynamic fibrinolysis assays, revealed conflicting results with normal or increased lysis and changes were not associated with outcome. In conclusion, dynamic assays were able to detect reduced platelet function, not revealed by conventional or quantitative assays. Activation of secondary hemostasis was found in both dynamic and nondynamic assays, while changes in fibrinolysis were not convincingly demonstrable in either dynamic or conventional or quantitative assays. Hence, from a mechanistic point of view, desmopressin to prevent rebleeding and heparin to prevent DCI may hold potential as therapeutic options. As changes in fibrinolysis were not convincingly demonstrated and not related to outcome, the use of tranexamic acid prior to aneurysm closure is not supported by this review.

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