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We previously analyzed five trials on ticagrelor/aspirin versus clopidogrel/aspirin in patients with minor stroke/ TIA in a network meta-analysis. We updated our search and identified 311 new citations with one study for inclusion: CHANCE2 enrolled patients with CYP2C19 loss-of-function alleles and randomized them to ticagrelor/aspirin or clopidogrel/aspirin. Pooling of CHANCE2 with the original studies could not be completed due to violation of NMA assumptions, due to significant inconsistency. This suggests patients with CYP2C19 loss-of-function alleles represent a subpopulation that is inherently different from the general stroke population in their antiplatelet response. Results from CHANCE-2 may not be generalizable without genotype testing.
Advance consent could allow individuals at high risk of stroke to provide consent before they might become eligible for enrollment in acute stroke trials. This survey explores the acceptability of this novel technique to Canadian Research Ethics Board (REB) chairs that review acute stroke trials. Responses from 15 REB chairs showed that majority of respondents expressed comfort approving studies that adopt advance consent. There was no clear preference for advance consent over deferral of consent, although respondents expressed significant concern with broad rather than trial-specific advance consent. These findings shed light on the acceptability of advance consent to Canadian ethics regulators.
Advance consent presents a potential solution to the challenge of obtaining informed consent for participation in acute stroke trials. Clinicians in stroke prevention clinics are uniquely positioned to identify and seek consent from potential stroke trial participants. To assess the acceptability of advance consent to Canadian stroke clinic physicians, we performed an online survey. We obtained 58 respondents (response rate 35%): the vast majority (82%) expressed comfort with obtaining advance consent and 92% felt that doing so would not be a significant disruption to clinic workflow. These results support further study of advance consent for acute stroke trials.
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.
Stroke is a common and serious disorder. With optimal care, 90-day recurrent stroke risk can be reduced from 10% to about 1%. Stroke prevention clinics (SPCs) can improve patient outcomes and resource allocation but lack standardization in patient management. The extent of variation in patient management among SPCs is unknown. Our aims were to assess baseline practice variation between Canadian SPCs and the impact of COVID-19 on SPC patient care.
We conducted an electronic survey of 80 SPCs across Canada from May to November 2021. SPC leads were contacted by email with up to five reminders.
Of 80 SPCs contacted, 76 were eligible from which 38 (50.0%) responded. The majority (65.8%) of SPCs are open 5 or more days a week. Tests are more likely to be completed before the SPC visit if referrals were from clinic’s own emergency department compared to other referring sources. COVID-19 had a negative impact on routine patient care including longer wait times (increased for 36.4% clinics) and higher number of patients without completed bloodwork prior to arriving for appointments (increased for 27.3% clinics). During COVID-19 pandemic, 87.9% of SPCs provided virtual care while 72.7% plan to continue with virtual care post-COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the time-sensitive nature of transient ischemic attack patient management, some SPCs in Canada are not able to see patients quickly. SPCs should endeavor to implement strategies so that they can see high-risk patients within the highest risk timeline and implement strategies to complete some tests while waiting for SPC appointment.
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.
We reviewed stroke care delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic at our stroke center and provincial telestroke system. We counted referrals to our prevention clinic, code strokes, thrombolysis, endovascular thrombectomies, and activations of a provincial telestroke system from February to April of 2017–2020. In April 2020, there was 28% reduction in prevention clinic referrals, 32% reduction in code strokes, and 26% reduction in telestroke activations compared to prior years. Thrombolysis and endovascular thrombectomy rates remained constant. Fewer patients received stroke services across the spectrum from prevention, acute care to telestroke care in Ontario, Canada, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The optimal timing of anticoagulation after ischemic stroke in atrial fibrillation (AF) patients is unknown. Our aim was to demonstrate the feasibility and safety of initiating dabigatran therapy within 14 days of transient ischemic attack (TIA) or minor stroke in AF patients.
Patients and Methods:
A prospective, multi-center registry (NCT02415855) in patients with AF treated with dabigatran within 14 days of acute ischemic stroke/TIA (National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) ≤ 3) onset. Baseline and follow-up computed tomography (CT) scans were assessed for hemorrhagic transformation (HT) and graded by using European Cooperative Acute Stroke Study criteria.
One hundred and one patients, with a mean age of 72.4 ± 11.5 years, were enrolled. Median infarct volume was 0 ml. Median time from index event onset to dabigatran initiation was 2 days, and median baseline NIHSS was 1. Pre-treatment HT was present in seven patients. No patients developed symptomatic HT. On the day 7 CT scan, HT was present in six patients (one progressing from baseline hemorrhagic infarction type 1). Infarct volume was a predictor of incident HT (odds ratio = 1.063 [1.020–1.107], p < 0.003). All six (100%) patients with new/progressive HT were functionally independent (modified Rankin Scale (mRS) = 0–2) at 30 days, which was similar to those without HT (90%, p = 0.422). Recurrent ischemic events occurred within 30 days in four patients, two of which were associated with severe disability and death (mRS 5 and 6, respectively).
Early dabigatran treatment did not precipitate symptomatic HT after minor stroke. Asymptomatic HT was associated with larger baseline infarct volumes. Early recurrent ischemic events may be clinically more important.
Avascularity on CT angiography source images (CTASI) may better predict final infarct volume in acute stroke as compared to early ischemic changes on non-contract CT. These CTASI findings may represent infarct core and help determine the extent of salvageable tissue. However, the extent of avascularity on CTASI may overestimate infarct volume if transit of contrast is prolonged due to proximal artery occlusion. We present a case where CT-perfusion (CTP) and time-resolved CT-angiography (CTA) identified salvageable tissue thought to be infarcted on CTASI.
Background: For optimal stroke prevention, best practices guidelines recommend carotid endarterectomy (CEA) for symptomatic patients within two weeks; however, 2013 Ontario data indicated that only 9% of eligible patients from outpatient Stroke Prevention Clinics (SPCs) achieved this target. The goal of our study was to identify modifiable system factors that could enhance the quality and timeliness of care among patients needing urgent CEA. Methods: We conducted a retrospective chart review of transient ischemic attack/stroke patients assessed in Champlain Local Health Integrated Network SPCs between 2011 and 2014 who subsequently underwent CEA. Descriptive statistics were used to define patient characteristics, timelines from symptom onset to CEA, and system factors that contributed to delays or improvements in care. Multivariate analysis was used to determine statistically significant variations between groups. Results: Seventy-five records were eligible for study inclusion. Median time from initial symptoms to CEA was 31 days, with 21.3% of patients undergoing surgery within 2 weeks. Significant delays were common in patient presentation and assessment following symptom onset, wait times for vascular imaging and neurological assessment, and time from surgical assessment to CEA completion. Rapid testing and triage, coupled with collaborative initiatives among SPC, surgical, and radiology teams were associated with significantly improved timelines. Conclusions: Success factors for rapid CEA are multifaceted, including system changes that address public awareness of stroke and 911 response, improvements in vascular imaging access, and redesign of clinical services to promote collaboration and fast-tracking of care. Implementation of performance measures to monitor and guide clinical innovations is recommended.
A cardiac source is often implicated in strokes where the deficit includes aphasia. However, less is known about the etiology of isolated aphasia during transient ischemic attack (TIA). Our objective was to determine whether patients with isolated aphasia are likely to have a cardioembolic etiology for their TIA.
We prospectively studied a cohort of TIA patients in eight tertiary-care emergency departments. Patients with isolated aphasia were identified by the treating physician at the time of emergency department presentation. Patients with dysarthria (i.e., a phonation disturbance) were not included. Potential cardiac sources for embolism were defined as atrial fibrillation on history, electrocardiogram, Holter monitor, atrial fibrillation on echocardiography, or thrombus on echocardiography.
Of the 2,360 TIA patients identified, 1,155 had neurological deficits at the time of the emergency physician assessment and were included in this analysis, and 41 had isolated aphasia as their only neurological deficit. Patients with isolated aphasia were older (73.9±10.0 v. 67.2±14.5 years; p=0.003), more likely to have a history of heart failure (9.8% v. 2.6%; p=0.027), and were twice as likely to have any cardiac source of embolism (22.0% v. 10.6%; p=0.037).
Isolated aphasia is associated with a high rate of cardioembolic sources of embolism after TIA. Emergency patients with isolated aphasia diagnosed with a TIA warrant a rapid and thorough assessment for a cardioembolic source.
Background: Recurrence after intracranial aneurysm coiling is a highly prevalent outcome, yet to be understood. We investigated clinical, radiological and procedural factors associated with major recurrence of coiled intracranial aneurysms. Methods: We retrospectively analyzed prospectively collected coiling data (2003-12). We recorded characteristics of aneurysms, patients and interventional techniques, pre-discharge and angiographic follow-up occlusion. The Raymond-Roy classification was used; major recurrence was a change from class I or II to class III, increase in class III remnant, and any recurrence requiring any type of retreatment. Identification of risk factors associated with major recurrence used univariate Cox Proportional Hazards Model followed by multivariate regression analysis of covariates with P<0.1. Results: A total of 467 aneurysms were treated in 435 patients: 283(65%) harboring acutely ruptured aneurysms, 44(10.1%) patients died before discharge and 33(7.6%) were lost to follow-up. A total of 1367 angiographic follow-up studies (range: 1-108 months, Median [interquartile ranges (IQR)]: 37[14-62]) was performed in 384(82.2%) aneurysms. The major recurrence rate was 98(21%) after 6(3.5-22.5) months. Multivariate analysis (358 patients with 384 aneurysms) revealed the risk factors for major recurrence: age>65 y (hazard ratio (HR): 1.61; P=0.04), male sex (HR: 2.13; P<0.01), hypercholesterolemia (HR: 1.65; P=0.03), neck size ≥4 mm (HR: 1.79; P=0.01), dome size ≥7 mm (HR: 2.44; P<0.01), non-stent-assisted coiling (HR: 2.87; P=0.01), and baseline class III (HR: 2.18; P<0.01). Conclusion: Approximately one fifth of the intracranial aneurysms resulted in major recurrence. Modifiable factors for major recurrence were choice of stent-assisted technique and confirmation of adequate baseline occlusion (Class I/II) in the first coiling procedure.
Background: Recanalization rates and patient outcomes in acute occlusion of the carotid terminus have previously been poor. The use of stent-retrievers has resulted in better recanalization and patient outcomes. We sought to compare outcomes in patients treated with stent-retrievers to outcomes in older techniques. Methods: We retrospectively compared a stent-retriever cohort to a historical cohort. We evaluated recanalization rates and good outcomes (defined as mRS < 2 at 30 days or 10 point drop in NIHSS). Results: There were twenty patients treated with stent-retrievers versus nine without. The recanalization rate in patients treated with stent retrievers was significantly higher than that of other modalities (90% vs 33%, p=0.004). Good outcomes were significantly higher in the stent retriever cohort (70% vs 22%, p=0.041). Conclusion: The use of stent-retrievers in patients with carotid “T” occlusions shows promise in comparison to older techniques. A randomized trial comparing stent-retriever therapy to IV thrombolysis is warranted to determine the efficacy of this new generation of devices.