American Heart Association

Monthly Archives: December 2019

Neurovascular Pathology in Newborns: A Short Review

Alejandro Fuerte, MD

Newborn neurovascular diseases are common and are responsible for permanent disability. Early diagnosis and correct management are important to decrease the morbidity and mortality of these diseases. Studies are currently underway to advance this field and achieve more effective therapies.

Based on highlighted articles, below I present a short review of the most common perinatal neurovascular diseases.

  • Germinal matrix hemorrhage (GMH): The germinal matrix is vascular tissue. It rarely persists in newborns to term because it disappears by around 33 weeks. GMH is, therefore, more common in pre-term infants. Although it typically originates in the periventricular region, blood can invade the ventricular system. Risk factors include weight < 1.5 kg and gestational age < 34 weeks. The findings of transcranial Doppler ultrasound determine the severity of the hemorrhage. A study of bleeding diathesis should be included in the diagnosis. There is no treatment protocol, although some studies confirm that the administration of corticosteroids to the mother in situations of threatened pre-term birth reduces the incidence and mortality of GMH. Currently, the best strategy to reduce the incidence of GMH is the prevention of pre-term birth. As far as surgical treatment is concerned, ventricular lavage or ventriculostomy is usually performed. The prognosis is usually related to the severity of the hemorrhage and the appearance of complications such as periventricular leukomalacia (25-75% of cases) and hydrocephalus (11-30% of cases). For the treatment of hydrocephalus, CSF ventriculoperitoneal shunting is, in many cases, the best option, and it has been shown to improve long-term psychomotor development.
By |December 11th, 2019|clinical|0 Comments

ANS 2019 Sessions: “Injury to the Nervous System” and “Pathway to Success: Paving the Way for Translational Stroke Research”

The Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society
December 2–5, 2019

Lin Kooi Ong, PhD

Rebecca Hood, PhD*

The Annual Scientific Meeting of the Australasian Neuroscience Society was held December 2 to 5 in Adelaide. There were many high-quality and exciting sessions. We would like to highlight two key sessions that focused on stroke and brain injury.

The first session, “Injury to the Nervous System,” provided the audience a sample of the insights gleaned from various studies on injury to the nervous system. Dr. Shenpeng Zhang (La Trobe University) kicked off the session with a retrospective analysis of 5 years’ experimental stroke data from 716 mice to identify interrelationships between measures such as infarct volume, brain edema, functional outcomes and leukocytes.

Blood Pressure Control Improves Outcome in Spontaneous Intracerebral Hemorrhage

Ravinder-Jeet Singh, MBBS, DM

Moullaali TJ, Wang X, Martin RH, Shipes VB, Robinson TG, Chalmers J, et al. Blood pressure control and clinical outcomes in acute intracerebral haemorrhage: a preplanned pooled analysis of individual participant data. Lancet Neurol. 2019;18:857-864.

Approach to management of blood pressure during early hours after the onset of intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is heterogenous due to potential benefits vs. perceived risks of acute blood pressure lowering. The main rationale of acute blood pressure lowering is to reduce hematoma expansion, thereby, limiting early neurological deterioration and poor long-term outcome associated with hematoma expansion.1 Smaller hematoma expansion also leads to smaller final hematoma volume, therefore, lesser increase in absolute perihematomal edema and better outcomes.2 Conversely, acute blood pressure lowering might cause more cerebral insult by compromising perihematomal penumbra, a concept now widely debated.3 Aggressive blood pressure lowering is associated with systemic complications, especially remote ischemic cerebral lesions, which are associated with neurological deterioration4 and non-cerebral ischemia (especially cardiac ischemia and acute renal injury), worsening outcomes. Therefore, clinicians often face the questions “Where lies the right balance?” and “What’s the sweet spot of blood pressure target?” in an individual patient.

By |December 9th, 2019|clinical|0 Comments

Article Commentary: “Stroke Incidence and Case Fatality According to Rural or Urban Residence: Results From the French Brest Stroke Registry”

Kristina Shkirkova, BSc

Grimaud O, Lachkhem Y, Gao F, Padilla C, Bertin M, Nowak E, et al. Stroke Incidence and Case Fatality According to Rural or Urban Residence: Results From the French Brest Stroke Registry. Stroke. 2019;50:2661–2667.

In this entry, I discuss a recent publication by Olivier Grimaud and colleagues regarding the stroke incidence and case fatality according to rural or urban residence. Although rural-urban disparities in stroke epidemiology research have received modest attention in recent years, localization of most stroke registries in large urban areas confounds exploration of stroke mortality as a function of urban/rural area.

There has been conflicting evidence regarding the association between stroke incidence and rural or urban residence status. Recent data in the United States suggests that rural residence location is associated with higher incidence of stroke than urban location of residence. Similarly, results from other high-income countries also report conflicting data. The authors of this study sought to examine the relationship between stroke incidence, case fatality, and residence location using the French Brest Stroke Registry.

Article Commentary: “Contributions of Stepping Intensity and Variability to Mobility in Individuals Poststroke: A Randomized Clinical Trial”

Tamaya Van Criekinge, PT

Hornby TG, Henderson CE, Plawecki A, Lucas E, Lotter J, Holthus M, et al. Contributions of Stepping Intensity and Variability to Mobility in Individuals Poststroke: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Stroke. 2019;50:2492–2499.

Recovery of gait after stroke is considered one of the most important therapy goals for both patients and therapists, to assure independency and the ability to ambulate in the community. However, over 20% of stroke survivors do not reach independent walking, which necessitates the implementation of more intensive gait rehabilitation strategies. As Hornby et al. correctly state, rehabilitation staff are often too reserved, as they are scared of potential adverse effects, such as cardiovascular events and abnormal kinematic movements strategies.

In this study, Hornby and colleagues questioned if the benefits after high-intensity training in motor recovery outweigh the possible adverse events. In total, 97 chronic stroke patients were randomized in three groups: 1) High-intensity in high variable contexts (speed-dependent and skill-dependent multiple direction treadmill training, overground training and stair climbing at 70-80% of the heart rate reserve); 2) High-intensity with minimal variability (forward stepping treadmill and overground training at 70-80% of heart rate reserve); and 3) Low-intensity in high variable contexts (similar variable contexts as group one, yet performing exercises at 30-40% of heart rate reserve). Primary walking outcomes assessed were self-selected and fasted speed, single-limb stance and step-length asymmetry at self-selected and fasted speed, and six-minute walking test at fasted speed.

Tenecteplase: Making its Way to the Guidelines

Victor J. Del Brutto, MD

Powers WJ, Rabinstein AA, Ackerson T, Adeoye OM, Bambakidis NC, Becker K, et al. Guidelines for the Early Management of Patients With Acute Ischemic Stroke: 2019 Update to the 2018 Guidelines for the Early Management of Acute Ischemic Stroke: A Guideline for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2019

Since the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke trial results were published in 1995, recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) alteplase has been the mainstay of thrombolytic therapy for acute ischemic stroke. Nevertheless, alteplase has a non-negligible risk of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage, as well as limited efficacy in regards to the rate of vessel recanalization, especially in the setting of large vessel occlusion. For this reason, several studies have aimed to find an alternative thrombolytic agent with superior efficacy, safer profile, and simpler mode of administration. Tenecteplase, a genetically engineered mutant tPA, has several pharmacological advantages over alteplase, including higher fibrin specificity, less disruption of hemostasis, and longer half-life. This suggests that tenecteplase is a potentially better agent with higher rate of recanalization and lesser hemorrhagic complications. In addition, tenecteplase has a more practical way of administration (single bolus) in comparison to alteplase (bolus plus one-hour infusion).

In light of two recent large randomized controlled trials, tenecteplase has made its way into the American Heart Association guidelines. Initially, in the 2018 decree, tenecteplase debuted as a weak recommendation indicating that a 0.4 mg/kg single intravenous bolus might be considered as an alternative to alteplase in patients with minor deficits and no large vessel occlusion. The caveats of the aforementioned recommendation strictly adhered, in terms of dosing and selection criteria, to the NOR-TEST trial. This large (N=1100) phase III, randomized, open-label, double blind, superiority study compared tenecteplase to alteplase within 4.5 hours of symptoms onset using only CT for imaging selection. The authors reported no difference in functional outcome at 3 months and similar rate of hemorrhagic complications in both treatment groups. However, results were significantly affected by a high percentage of minor strokes and stroke mimics.

By |December 3rd, 2019|clinical|0 Comments

Which Medical Treatment After Ischemic Stroke and Patent Foramen Ovale? The Answer (and Questions) of a Meta-Analysis

Raffaele Ornello, MD

Sagris D, Georgiopoulos G, Perlepe K, Pateras K, Korompoki E, Makaritsis K, et al. Antithrombotic Treatment in Cryptogenic Stroke Patients With Patent Foramen Ovale: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Stroke. 2019;50:3135–3140.

Patent foramen ovale (PFO) is a relevant potential cause of cryptogenic ischemic stroke, especially in young people. After a cryptogenic ischemic stroke in patients with PFO, it is unclear whether to start an antiplatelet or an anticoagulant agent.

In this article, the authors performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to summarize the available evidence in the field and help orienting treatment. The authors found that anticoagulants were not superior to antiplatelets in the prevention of recurrent stroke in patients with cryptogenic stroke and PFO in the absence of different bleeding risk. However, the absolute effect sizes suggest a potentially larger preventive effect of anticoagulants over antiplatelets, warranting the feasibility of a large randomized controlled trial of non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants versus aspirin.

It should be noted that the trials included in the meta-analysis did not consider the effect of some clinical characteristics, such as the size of PFO and the risk of venous thrombosis and, consequently, paradoxical emboli. Before finding answers to the right medical therapy after cryptogenic stroke in the presence of PFO, we might have some further questions to ask ourselves.

By |December 2nd, 2019|clinical|0 Comments