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The 2022 update of the Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations (CSBPR) for Acute Stroke Management, 7th edition, is a comprehensive summary of current evidence-based recommendations, appropriate for use by an interdisciplinary team of healthcare providers and system planners caring for persons with an acute stroke or transient ischemic attack. These recommendations are a timely opportunity to reassess current processes to ensure efficient access to acute stroke diagnostics, treatments, and management strategies, proven to reduce mortality and morbidity. The topics covered include prehospital care, emergency department care, intravenous thrombolysis and endovascular thrombectomy (EVT), prevention and management of inhospital complications, vascular risk factor reduction, early rehabilitation, and end-of-life care. These recommendations pertain primarily to an acute ischemic vascular event. Notable changes in the 7th edition include recommendations pertaining the use of tenecteplase, thrombolysis as a bridging therapy prior to mechanical thrombectomy, dual antiplatelet therapy for stroke prevention,1 the management of symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage following thrombolysis, acute stroke imaging, care of patients undergoing EVT, medical assistance in dying, and virtual stroke care. An explicit effort was made to address sex and gender differences wherever possible. The theme of the 7th edition of the CSBPR is building connections to optimize individual outcomes, recognizing that many people who present with acute stroke often also have multiple comorbid conditions, are medically more complex, and require a coordinated interdisciplinary approach for optimal recovery. Additional materials to support timely implementation and quality monitoring of these recommendations are available at www.strokebestpractices.ca.
Mortality remains a substantial problem after acute ischemic stroke, despite advances in acute stroke treatment over the past three decades. Mortality is particularly high among patients with Total Anterior Circulation Stroke (TACS), generally representing patients with middle cerebral artery occlusions. Notably however, these patients also stand to benefit most from new therapies including endovascular thrombectomy (EVT). In this study, we aimed to examine temporal trends in, and factors associated with, 30-day in-hospital mortality after TACS.
Information on all patients with community-onset TACS from 1994 through 2019 was extracted from a prospective acute stroke registry. Multivariate analysis was performed on the primary outcome of 30-day in-hospital mortality, as well as secondary functional outcomes.
We studied 1106 patients hospitalized for community-onset TACS, 456 (41%) of whom experienced 30-day in-hospital mortality. Over the 25 years of observation, 30-day in-hospital mortality rose and then fell. Increased odds of mortality was associated with age and stroke severity. Decreased odds of mortality was associated with alteplase therapy and EVT, as well as presentation to hospital more than 12 hours after stroke onset. Treatment with alteplase, EVT, or both was associated with higher odds of functional independence and discharge home, and shorter lengths of stay in acute care.
Patients receiving alteplase, EVT, or both had lower 30-day in-hospital mortality and better functional outcomes than those who were untreated. These observational data demonstrate the benefits of recanalization therapy in routine clinical practice.
The 2020 update of the Canadian Stroke Best Practice Recommendations (CSBPR) for the Secondary Prevention of Stroke includes current evidence-based recommendations and expert opinions intended for use by clinicians across a broad range of settings. They provide guidance for the prevention of ischemic stroke recurrence through the identification and management of modifiable vascular risk factors. Recommendations address triage, diagnostic testing, lifestyle behaviors, vaping, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, other cardiac conditions, antiplatelet and anticoagulant therapies, and carotid and vertebral artery disease. This update of the previous 2017 guideline contains several new or revised recommendations. Recommendations regarding triage and initial assessment of acute transient ischemic attack (TIA) and minor stroke have been simplified, and selected aspects of the etiological stroke workup are revised. Updated treatment recommendations based on new evidence have been made for dual antiplatelet therapy for TIA and minor stroke; anticoagulant therapy for atrial fibrillation; embolic strokes of undetermined source; low-density lipoprotein lowering; hypertriglyceridemia; diabetes treatment; and patent foramen ovale management. A new section has been added to provide practical guidance regarding temporary interruption of antithrombotic therapy for surgical procedures. Cancer-associated ischemic stroke is addressed. A section on virtual care delivery of secondary stroke prevention services in included to highlight a shifting paradigm of care delivery made more urgent by the global pandemic. In addition, where appropriate, sex differences as they pertain to treatments have been addressed. The CSBPR include supporting materials such as implementation resources to facilitate the adoption of evidence into practice and performance measures to enable monitoring of uptake and effectiveness of recommendations.
A recent survey found few guidelines on the provision of palliative care following stroke; none examined the efficacy or results of any such process. The role of the patient's family in decision making and in conflicts with staff has not been evaluated. We sought to formally evaluate the use of locally-developed palliative care guidelines on our Acute Stroke Unit (ASU).
We retrospectively examined records of 104 patients who died on our ASU over a two-year period to determine if our existing palliative guidelines were reflected in clinical practice, and to identify conflicts that arose. Data on medical and nursing care, palliative decisions, and medication use were compared to the ASU's existing palliative care guidelines. Family concerns about the palliative process were also reviewed.
Of patients admitted to the stroke unit, 104 (16% of total admissions) died. Ninety-four (90.4%) of these were palliated; all received routine nursing and comfort care prior to death. Median time from admission to palliation was 3.6 days; median time from admission to death was 8.5 days. Most had vital signs (98.9%), investigations (100%) and non-palliative medications (95.7%) stopped, and had nasogastric feeding (96.8%) and intravenous fluids (87.2%) withdrawn or never begun. Most were treated with morphine (93.6%) and scopolamine (81.9%). Concerns raised by family members centered around hydration and feeding (45.7%), doubts about palliative care (27.8%) and patient comfort (18.2%).
A formal approach to palliation results in timely decisions regarding end of life care with relatively few conflicts. Further work to address the specific concerns of families is needed.