American Heart Association


Sex-Specific Risk Factors: Complications of Pregnancy Can Increase Risk of Stroke

Arooshi Kumar, MD

Liang C, Chung HF, Dobson AJ, Mishra GD. Infertility, Miscarriage, Stillbirth, and the Risk of Stroke Among Women: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Stroke. 2022;53:328–337.

It is well established that stroke is a leading cause of mortality and disability around the world. It is more recently accepted that sex-related differences exist for stroke prevalence and outcomes, and that females might carry additional risk factors transcending the traditional vascular risk factors. To that end, pregnancy and childbirth mark a uniquely special experience for females. A growing body of evidence suggests that pregnancy and complications of pregnancy are associated with long-term risk of stroke.1-2 Liang et al. published a comprehensive systematic review on the association between infertility, miscarriage, stillbirth, and stroke.

By |April 11th, 2022|clinical, health care, policy|Comments Off on Sex-Specific Risk Factors: Complications of Pregnancy Can Increase Risk of Stroke

Digital Health in Primordial and Primary Stroke Prevention: Feasible Solution During COVID-19 Pandemic?

Fransisca Indraswari, MD

Feigin VL, Owolabi M, Hankey GJ, Pandian J, Martins SC. Digital Health in Primordial and Primary Stroke Prevention: A Systematic Review. Stroke. 2022.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted healthcare towards digital devices to compensate for less physical interaction, without compromising on the quality of patient care. Stroke care has typically been focused on secondary prevention and acute management, i.e., thrombolysis and endovascular, while there are not many studies on primary prevention. Primordial stroke prevention refers to the activities to avoid development of risk factors for stroke, whereas primary stroke prevention refers to activities to treat or reduce exposure to risk factors for stroke. Feigin et al. have provided a systematic literature review on how primary and primordial stroke prevention can be achieved through technology. The unprecedented growth of smartphone or other digital technologies is being used in almost every area of healthcare, offering a unique opportunity to improve primordial and primary stroke prevention at the individual level. The aim of the study is to provide current knowledge, challenges and opportunities of digital health in primordial and primary stroke prevention.

By |February 14th, 2022|clinical, Conference, health care, policy|Comments Off on Digital Health in Primordial and Primary Stroke Prevention: Feasible Solution During COVID-19 Pandemic?

Stroke in the COVID-19 Era

Kevin O’Connor, MD

Katsanos AH, Palaiodimou L, Zand R, Yaghi S, Kamel H, Navi BB, Turc G, Benetou V, Sharma VK, Mavridis D, et al. Changes in Stroke Hospital Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Stroke. 2021.

COVID-19 complicates many aspects of clinical care, including care of stroke patients. Katsanos et al. conducted a meta-analysis on the impact of COVID-19 on the provision of stroke care, independent of SARS-CoV-2 infection status. They collected 46 studies capturing data from 129,491 patients across Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas comparing common stroke care variables pre- and post-pandemic onset. These included demographic information, vascular risk factors, intravenous thrombolysis (IVT) administration, endovascular thrombectomy (EVT) performance, relevant time metrics, and hospitalization outcomes.

By |October 12th, 2021|clinical, health care, policy|Comments Off on Stroke in the COVID-19 Era

A Good Reminder: Adherence to Quality Indicators Associated with Decreased 7-Day Mortality

Melanie R. F. Greenway, MD

Haas K, Rücker V, Hermanek P, Misselwitz B, Berger K, Seidel G, Janssen A, Rode S, Burmeister C, Matthis C, et al. Association Between Adherence to Quality Indicators and 7-Day In-Hospital Mortality After Acute Ischemic Stroke. Stroke. 2020;51:3664–3672.

In the age of checklists, quality metrics, and frequent audits, sometimes the importance of these indicators is taken for granted. Instead of serving as a guiding light for quality care, they may be seen as an annoyance, slowing down an already inefficient system. This study reviewing the association between quality indicators (QI) and outcomes is a good reminder of the importance of tending to these quality indicators. 

This study utilized the German Stroke Registers Study Group (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Deutschprachiger Schlaganfall Register), which is a network of nine stroke registers, comprising multiple regions throughout the country. 388,012 patients with acute ischemic stroke admitted to 736 hospitals were reviewed from 2015-2016. Of the hospitals participating, 55.6% of them had stroke unit services. Overall, 7-day in-hospital mortality was 3.4%, and median length of stay was 8 days. 

Article Commentary: “Decrease in Hospital Admissions for Transient Ischemic Attack, Mild, and Moderate Stroke During the COVID-19 Era”

Burton J. Tabaac, MD

Diegoli H, Magalhães PSC, Martins SCO, Moro CHC, França PHC, Safanelli J, Nagel, V, Venancio VG, Liberato RB, Longo AL. Decrease in Hospital Admissions for Transient Ischemic Attack, Mild, and Moderate Stroke During the COVID-19 Era. Stroke. 2020.

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) a pandemic. As of this writing, the global number of cases exceeds 8.1 million. However, despite the rapidly increasing prevalence of COVID-19, many questions remain regarding this unusual and highly lethal disease. The pathogenesis of COVID-19–associated neurologic injury remains to be established. SARS-CoV-2 has been shown to induce a hypercoagulable state, thus increasing the risk of arterial thrombosis with acute ischemic stroke.(1)

From late 2019 to early 2020, COVID-19 started to disrupt the healthcare systems of many nations. From the beginning of the pandemic, it has been a major concern for doctors and public authorities that resources needed to treat other conditions such as stroke are diverted for COVID-19.(2) The authors are keen to note that “patients may be unwilling to go to a hospital for stroke treatment due to fear of becoming contaminated with the disease.” Using a population-based stroke registry, the authors of this original contribution investigated the impact of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic on stroke admissions in Joinville, Brazil. The authors’ hypotheses were as follows: First, hospital admissions for stroke were reduced after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Next, the reduction occurred only in transient ischemic attacks (TIA) and mild cases. Also, there was a change in the time between stroke onset and hospital admissions. Finally, the number of patients receiving reperfusion therapies (IVT and MT) has decreased.

By |June 19th, 2020|clinical, health care, outcomes, policy|Comments Off on Article Commentary: “Decrease in Hospital Admissions for Transient Ischemic Attack, Mild, and Moderate Stroke During the COVID-19 Era”

The Trials of tPA

Rachel Forman, MD

Haslett JJ, Genadry L, Zhang X, LaBelle LA, Bederson J, Mocco J, et al. Systematic Review of Malpractice Litigation in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Stroke. Stroke. 2019

When I read the title of this article, the first thing that came to mind was the bleeding risk associated with tPA. After all, we carefully read through the tPA contraindications checklist making sure we will not cause harm to our patients. It turns out that there is a lot more to worry about! 

In the article “Systematic Review of Malpractice Litigation in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Acute Stroke,” Haslett et al. discuss characteristics of malpractice cases related to acute stroke management. 

It was helpful that the authors first defined some legal terms, specifically that “to prove medical malpractice occurred, a plaintiff must show that during the course of treatment, the physician deviated from the standard of care as defined by the medical community, and that caused injury to the patient.”

By |September 23rd, 2019|clinical, health care, outcomes, policy|Comments Off on The Trials of tPA

Infection Impact on Stroke Outcome Beyond Hospital Discharge

Elena Zapata-Arriaza, MD

Boehme AK, Kulick ER, Canning M, Alvord T, Khaksari B, Omran S, et al. Infections Increase the Risk of 30-Day Readmissions Among Stroke Survivors: Analysis of the National Readmission Database. Stroke. 2018;49:2999–3005.

Infection is a most frequent medical complication after stroke. It is well recognized that acute stroke induces both the central nervous system and peripheral inflammatory responses, and, infection during stroke admission increases acute and longer-term inflammatory responses, complicating stroke outcomes. However, up to now, clinical trials with prophylactic aim in infection after stroke have failed. Therefore, stroke and infection develop a negative feedback between them.

Based on the known association between infection and stroke outcomes, the authors performed a weighted analysis of the federally managed 2013 National Readmission Database to assess the relationship between infection during a stroke hospitalization and 30-day readmission (30dRA) among ischemic stroke survivors. The main goal of this paper was to confirm the relation between stroke infection and 30dRA. The novelty of the paper is the identification of stroke associated infection as a predictor of readmission, not only as the most frequent cause of a new hospitalization. The authors employed the International Classification of Disease Ninth Revision [ICD-9] codes to identify ischemic stroke patients with ICD-9 codes present in the first diagnostic position ischemic stroke (referred as primary ischemic stroke patients) and patients with ischemic stroke code at any diagnostic position (referred as all ischemic stroke patients). The primary outcome, 30dRA, was classified as any hospitalization occurring within the 30-day postdischarge window and classified into planned or unplanned readmissions using previously validated ICD-9 codes. Secondary outcomes, 7dRA and 60dRA, were also assessed and were classified as any hospitalization occurring within the 7 days, or 60 days, postdischarge window.

By |February 26th, 2019|clinical, health care, outcomes, policy|Comments Off on Infection Impact on Stroke Outcome Beyond Hospital Discharge

The ARISTOPHANES Study: Real-World Evidence About Oral Anticoagulants

Lina Palaiodimou, MD

Lip GYH, Keshishian A, Li X, Hamilton M, Masseria C, Gupta K, et al. Effectiveness and Safety of Oral Anticoagulants Among Nonvalvular Atrial Fibrillation Patients: The ARISTOPHANES Study. Stroke. 2018

The ARISTOPHANES study is a large retrospective observational study with real-world data pooled from 5 data sources in the United States, in order to compare stroke/systemic embolism (SE) and major bleeding (MB) among nonvalvular atrial fibrillation patients treated with either non-vitamin K antagonist oral anticoagulants (NOACs) or warfarin.

The researchers of this study collected data about a total of 321182 patients with a diagnosis of AF, who had an active medical and pharmacy health plan enrollment and were prescribed treatment with either NOAC or warfarin according to pharmacy claims. Exclusion criteria were the following: evidence of valvular heart disease, venous thromboembolism, previous oral anticoagulant treatment, transient AF due to treatable causes (pericarditis, hyperthyroidism, thyrotoxicity), heart valve replacement or transplant, pregnancy and recent surgical operations. Demographic data, Charlson Comorbidity Index score, baseline bleeding and stroke/SE history, comorbidities, baseline comedication and dose of NOAC were recorded about all patients. In contrast, reason for lose-dose NOAC prescription, creatinine clearance, international normalized ratio (INR) measurements in warfarin-treatment group and patient adherence data were not available. The outcome measures were time to stroke (either ischemic or hemorrhagic) or systemic embolism and time to major bleeding, either gastrointestinal or intracranial or at other key sites (eyes, pericardium, urinary tract, joints). Identification of these events were based just on hospitalization incidence with stroke/SE or MB as the principal diagnosis according to International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision (ICD-9). Mortality due to all-causes was also evaluated, but just for the patients enlisted in only one out of five data sources. Patients were followed up each for a different period, according to drug discontinuation date, switch to another drug date, death, end of medical and pharmacy health plan enrollment, or end of study period, whichever occurred first. In the conducted sensitivity analysis, the follow-up period was restricted to 1 year, to better achieve balance between the cohorts.

Utility Weighted Modified Rankin Scale and the Future of Patient-Centered Outcomes in Stroke Research

Kevin S. Attenhofer, MD

Dijkland SA, Voormolen DC, Venema E, Roozenbeek B, Polinder S, Haagsma JA, et al. Utility-Weighted Modified Rankin Scale as Primary Outcome in Stroke Trials: A Simulation Study. Stroke. 2018

As stroke neurologists, we are all intimately familiar with the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) as a measure of degree of disability. It is a common outcome measure in stroke research and can be statistically analyzed as a simple dichotomization or ordinal shift (among other options). The dichotomized outcome takes varied and complex neurological outcomes and simplifies them down to nominal variables of “good” or “bad.” This is statistically more straightforward, but does result in some outcome information being discarded. The ordinal shift retains more of this information, but typically requires larger sample size to maintain adequate power. Even when well powered, however, the mRS still has a disproportionate focus on motor function when compared to other neurological domains, such as cognition or patient metrics such as quality of life.

By |April 25th, 2018|clinical, health care, outcomes, policy|Comments Off on Utility Weighted Modified Rankin Scale and the Future of Patient-Centered Outcomes in Stroke Research

Insights from Modeling Stroke Systems of Care in Philadelphia

Neal S. Parikh, MD

Mullen MT, Pajerowski W, Messe SR, Mechem CC, Jia J, Abboud M, et al. Geographic Modeling to Quantify the Impact of Primary and Comprehensive Stroke Center Destination Policies. Stroke. 2018

Dr. Mullen and colleagues performed a geographic modeling study to understand the implications of several pre-hospital triage strategies on transport times. The rationale for this and related studies is that optimizing stroke systems of care requires accounting for regional and local constraints. Because most of the U.S. population lives in urban areas, investigating urban stroke systems of care is worthwhile.

Philadelphia has only one EMS provider. So, the researchers were able to use EMS data to identify and geocode all ambulance-transported patients with possible stroke and then use a maps application programming interface (API) to estimate travel times. They also had actual travel times as reported by EMS.

By |March 21st, 2018|clinical, health care, outcomes, policy|Comments Off on Insights from Modeling Stroke Systems of Care in Philadelphia