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Concept: Stroke


Background In patients with ischemic stroke, endovascular treatment results in a higher rate of recanalization of the affected cerebral artery than systemic intravenous thrombolytic therapy. However, comparison of the clinical efficacy of the two approaches is needed. Methods We randomly assigned 362 patients with acute ischemic stroke, within 4.5 hours after onset, to endovascular therapy (intraarterial thrombolysis with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator [t-PA], mechanical clot disruption or retrieval, or a combination of these approaches) or intravenous t-PA. Treatments were to be given as soon as possible after randomization. The primary outcome was survival free of disability (defined as a modified Rankin score of 0 or 1 on a scale of 0 to 6, with 0 indicating no symptoms, 1 no clinically significant disability despite symptoms, and 6 death) at 3 months. Results A total of 181 patients were assigned to receive endovascular therapy, and 181 intravenous t-PA. The median time from stroke onset to the start of treatment was 3.75 hours for endovascular therapy and 2.75 hours for intravenous t-PA (P<0.001). At 3 months, 55 patients in the endovascular-therapy group (30.4%) and 63 in the intravenous t-PA group (34.8%) were alive without disability (odds ratio adjusted for age, sex, stroke severity, and atrial fibrillation status at baseline, 0.71; 95% confidence interval, 0.44 to 1.14; P=0.16). Fatal or nonfatal symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage within 7 days occurred in 6% of the patients in each group, and there were no significant differences between groups in the rates of other serious adverse events or the case fatality rate. Conclusions The results of this trial in patients with acute ischemic stroke indicate that endovascular therapy is not superior to standard treatment with intravenous t-PA. (Funded by the Italian Medicines Agency, number, NCT00640367 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Myocardial infarction, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Pulmonary embolism, Tissue plasminogen activator, Thrombolysis, Plasmin


Background Endovascular therapy is increasingly used after the administration of intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) for patients with moderate-to-severe acute ischemic stroke, but whether a combined approach is more effective than intravenous t-PA alone is uncertain. Methods We randomly assigned eligible patients who had received intravenous t-PA within 3 hours after symptom onset to receive additional endovascular therapy or intravenous t-PA alone, in a 2:1 ratio. The primary outcome measure was a modified Rankin scale score of 2 or less (indicating functional independence) at 90 days (scores range from 0 to 6, with higher scores indicating greater disability). Results The study was stopped early because of futility after 656 participants had undergone randomization (434 patients to endovascular therapy and 222 to intravenous t-PA alone). The proportion of participants with a modified Rankin score of 2 or less at 90 days did not differ significantly according to treatment (40.8% with endovascular therapy and 38.7% with intravenous t-PA; absolute adjusted difference, 1.5 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -6.1 to 9.1, with adjustment for the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale [NIHSS] score [8-19, indicating moderately severe stroke, or ≥20, indicating severe stroke]), nor were there significant differences for the predefined subgroups of patients with an NIHSS score of 20 or higher (6.8 percentage points; 95% CI, -4.4 to 18.1) and those with a score of 19 or lower (-1.0 percentage point; 95% CI, -10.8 to 8.8). Findings in the endovascular-therapy and intravenous t-PA groups were similar for mortality at 90 days (19.1% and 21.6%, respectively; P=0.52) and the proportion of patients with symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage within 30 hours after initiation of t-PA (6.2% and 5.9%, respectively; P=0.83). Conclusions The trial showed similar safety outcomes and no significant difference in functional independence with endovascular therapy after intravenous t-PA, as compared with intravenous t-PA alone. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and others; number, NCT00359424 .).

Concepts: Stroke, Modified Rankin Scale, Disability, Tissue plasminogen activator, Thrombolysis, Plasmin, Barthel scale, Rehabilitation medicine


Population-based studies have revealed declining acute ischemic stroke (AIS) hospitalization rates in the United States, but no study has assessed recent temporal trends in race/ethnic-, age-, and sex-specific AIS hospitalization rates.

Concepts: United States, Stroke, Poverty in the United States, U.S. state, Spanish language, Florida


Secondary prevention after stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) has focused on high early risk of recurrence, but survivors of stroke can have substantial long-term morbidity and mortality. We quantified long-term morbidity and mortality for patients who had no early complications after stroke or TIA and community-based controls.

Concepts: Mortality rate, Stroke, Transient ischemic attack, Prevention, High school


Background Whether brain imaging can identify patients who are most likely to benefit from therapies for acute ischemic stroke and whether endovascular thrombectomy improves clinical outcomes in such patients remains unclear. Methods In this study, we randomly assigned patients within 8 hours after the onset of large-vessel, anterior-circulation strokes to undergo mechanical embolectomy (Merci Retriever or Penumbra System) or receive standard care. All patients underwent pretreatment computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging of the brain. Randomization was stratified according to whether the patient had a favorable penumbral pattern (substantial salvageable tissue and small infarct core) or a nonpenumbral pattern (large core or small or absent penumbra). We assessed outcomes using the 90-day modified Rankin scale, ranging from 0 (no symptoms) to 6 (dead). Results Among 118 eligible patients, the mean age was 65.5 years, the mean time to enrollment was 5.5 hours, and 58% had a favorable penumbral pattern. Revascularization in the embolectomy group was achieved in 67% of the patients. Ninety-day mortality was 21%, and the rate of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage was 4%; neither rate differed across groups. Among all patients, mean scores on the modified Rankin scale did not differ between embolectomy and standard care (3.9 vs. 3.9, P=0.99). Embolectomy was not superior to standard care in patients with either a favorable penumbral pattern (mean score, 3.9 vs. 3.4; P=0.23) or a nonpenumbral pattern (mean score, 4.0 vs. 4.4; P=0.32). In the primary analysis of scores on the 90-day modified Rankin scale, there was no interaction between the pretreatment imaging pattern and treatment assignment (P=0.14). Conclusions A favorable penumbral pattern on neuroimaging did not identify patients who would differentially benefit from endovascular therapy for acute ischemic stroke, nor was embolectomy shown to be superior to standard care. (Funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke; MR RESCUE number, NCT00389467 .).

Concepts: Brain, Stroke, Traumatic brain injury, Medical imaging, Magnetic resonance imaging, Modified Rankin Scale, Radiology, Embolism


Objective To compare the efficacy, safety, and cost effectiveness of direct acting oral anticoagulants (DOACs) for patients with atrial fibrillation.Design Systematic review, network meta-analysis, and cost effectiveness analysis. Data sources Medline, PreMedline, Embase, and The Cochrane Library.Eligibility criteria for selecting studies Published randomised trials evaluating the use of a DOAC, vitamin K antagonist, or antiplatelet drug for prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation.Results 23 randomised trials involving 94 656 patients were analysed: 13 compared a DOAC with warfarin dosed to achieve a target INR of 2.0-3.0. Apixaban 5 mg twice daily (odds ratio 0.79, 95% confidence interval 0.66 to 0.94), dabigatran 150 mg twice daily (0.65, 0.52 to 0.81), edoxaban 60 mg once daily (0.86, 0.74 to 1.01), and rivaroxaban 20 mg once daily (0.88, 0.74 to 1.03) reduced the risk of stroke or systemic embolism compared with warfarin. The risk of stroke or systemic embolism was higher with edoxaban 60 mg once daily (1.33, 1.02 to 1.75) and rivaroxaban 20 mg once daily (1.35, 1.03 to 1.78) than with dabigatran 150 mg twice daily. The risk of all-cause mortality was lower with all DOACs than with warfarin. Apixaban 5 mg twice daily (0.71, 0.61 to 0.81), dabigatran 110 mg twice daily (0.80, 0.69 to 0.93), edoxaban 30 mg once daily (0.46, 0.40 to 0.54), and edoxaban 60 mg once daily (0.78, 0.69 to 0.90) reduced the risk of major bleeding compared with warfarin. The risk of major bleeding was higher with dabigatran 150 mg twice daily than apixaban 5 mg twice daily (1.33, 1.09 to 1.62), rivaroxaban 20 mg twice daily than apixaban 5 mg twice daily (1.45, 1.19 to 1.78), and rivaroxaban 20 mg twice daily than edoxaban 60 mg once daily (1.31, 1.07 to 1.59). The risk of intracranial bleeding was substantially lower for most DOACs compared with warfarin, whereas the risk of gastrointestinal bleeding was higher with some DOACs than warfarin. Apixaban 5 mg twice daily was ranked the highest for most outcomes, and was cost effective compared with warfarin.Conclusions The network meta-analysis informs the choice of DOACs for prevention of stroke in patients with atrial fibrillation. Several DOACs are of net benefit compared with warfarin. A trial directly comparing DOACs would overcome the need for indirect comparisons to be made through network meta-analysis.Systematic review registration PROSPERO CRD 42013005324.

Concepts: Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Pulmonary embolism, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Dabigatran, Anticoagulants, Vitamin K


Background It is uncertain whether bridging anticoagulation is necessary for patients with atrial fibrillation who need an interruption in warfarin treatment for an elective operation or other elective invasive procedure. We hypothesized that forgoing bridging anticoagulation would be noninferior to bridging with low-molecular-weight heparin for the prevention of perioperative arterial thromboembolism and would be superior to bridging with respect to major bleeding. Methods We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which, after perioperative interruption of warfarin therapy, patients were randomly assigned to receive bridging anticoagulation therapy with low-molecular-weight heparin (100 IU of dalteparin per kilogram of body weight) or matching placebo administered subcutaneously twice daily, from 3 days before the procedure until 24 hours before the procedure and then for 5 to 10 days after the procedure. Warfarin treatment was stopped 5 days before the procedure and was resumed within 24 hours after the procedure. Follow-up of patients continued for 30 days after the procedure. The primary outcomes were arterial thromboembolism (stroke, systemic embolism, or transient ischemic attack) and major bleeding. Results In total, 1884 patients were enrolled, with 950 assigned to receive no bridging therapy and 934 assigned to receive bridging therapy. The incidence of arterial thromboembolism was 0.4% in the no-bridging group and 0.3% in the bridging group (risk difference, 0.1 percentage points; 95% confidence interval [CI], -0.6 to 0.8; P=0.01 for noninferiority). The incidence of major bleeding was 1.3% in the no-bridging group and 3.2% in the bridging group (relative risk, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.20 to 0.78; P=0.005 for superiority). Conclusions In patients with atrial fibrillation who had warfarin treatment interrupted for an elective operation or other elective invasive procedure, forgoing bridging anticoagulation was noninferior to perioperative bridging with low-molecular-weight heparin for the prevention of arterial thromboembolism and decreased the risk of major bleeding. (Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health; BRIDGE number, NCT00786474 .).

Concepts: Blood, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Thrombosis, Pulmonary embolism, Warfarin, Anticoagulant, Heparin


To examine the risks of myocardial infarction, stroke (ischaemic and haemorrhagic), peripheral artery disease, venous thromboembolism, atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter, and heart failure in patients with migraine and in a general population comparison cohort.

Concepts: Blood, Myocardial infarction, Atherosclerosis, Heart, Blood vessel, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Atrial flutter


Background Triple antithrombotic therapy with warfarin plus two antiplatelet agents is the standard of care after percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) for patients with atrial fibrillation, but this therapy is associated with a high risk of bleeding. Methods In this multicenter trial, we randomly assigned 2725 patients with atrial fibrillation who had undergone PCI to triple therapy with warfarin plus a P2Y12 inhibitor (clopidogrel or ticagrelor) and aspirin (for 1 to 3 months) (triple-therapy group) or dual therapy with dabigatran (110 mg or 150 mg twice daily) plus a P2Y12 inhibitor (clopidogrel or ticagrelor) and no aspirin (110-mg and 150-mg dual-therapy groups). Outside the United States, elderly patients (≥80 years of age; ≥70 years of age in Japan) were randomly assigned to the 110-mg dual-therapy group or the triple-therapy group. The primary end point was a major or clinically relevant nonmajor bleeding event during follow-up (mean follow-up, 14 months). The trial also tested for the noninferiority of dual therapy with dabigatran (both doses combined) to triple therapy with warfarin with respect to the incidence of a composite efficacy end point of thromboembolic events (myocardial infarction, stroke, or systemic embolism), death, or unplanned revascularization. Results The incidence of the primary end point was 15.4% in the 110-mg dual-therapy group as compared with 26.9% in the triple-therapy group (hazard ratio, 0.52; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.42 to 0.63; P<0.001 for noninferiority; P<0.001 for superiority) and 20.2% in the 150-mg dual-therapy group as compared with 25.7% in the corresponding triple-therapy group, which did not include elderly patients outside the United States (hazard ratio, 0.72; 95% CI, 0.58 to 0.88; P<0.001 for noninferiority). The incidence of the composite efficacy end point was 13.7% in the two dual-therapy groups combined as compared with 13.4% in the triple-therapy group (hazard ratio, 1.04; 95% CI, 0.84 to 1.29; P=0.005 for noninferiority). The rate of serious adverse events did not differ significantly among the groups. Conclusions Among patients with atrial fibrillation who had undergone PCI, the risk of bleeding was lower among those who received dual therapy with dabigatran and a P2Y12 inhibitor than among those who received triple therapy with warfarin, a P2Y12 inhibitor, and aspirin. Dual therapy was noninferior to triple therapy with respect to the risk of thromboembolic events. (Funded by Boehringer Ingelheim; RE-DUAL PCI number, NCT02164864 .).

Concepts: Clinical trial, Myocardial infarction, Stroke, Atrial fibrillation, Clopidogrel, Warfarin, Aspirin, Anticoagulant


Hypertension is the most common condition seen in primary care and leads to myocardial infarction, stroke, renal failure, and death if not detected early and treated appropriately. Patients want to be assured that blood pressure (BP) treatment will reduce their disease burden, while clinicians want guidance on hypertension management using the best scientific evidence. This report takes a rigorous, evidence-based approach to recommend treatment thresholds, goals, and medications in the management of hypertension in adults. Evidence was drawn from randomized controlled trials, which represent the gold standard for determining efficacy and effectiveness. Evidence quality and recommendations were graded based on their effect on important outcomes. There is strong evidence to support treating hypertensive persons aged 60 years or older to a BP goal of less than 150/90 mm Hg and hypertensive persons 30 through 59 years of age to a diastolic goal of less than 90 mm Hg; however, there is insufficient evidence in hypertensive persons younger than 60 years for a systolic goal, or in those younger than 30 years for a diastolic goal, so the panel recommends a BP of less than 140/90 mm Hg for those groups based on expert opinion. The same thresholds and goals are recommended for hypertensive adults with diabetes or nondiabetic chronic kidney disease (CKD) as for the general hypertensive population younger than 60 years. There is moderate evidence to support initiating drug treatment with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor, angiotensin receptor blocker, calcium channel blocker, or thiazide-type diuretic in the nonblack hypertensive population, including those with diabetes. In the black hypertensive population, including those with diabetes, a calcium channel blocker or thiazide-type diuretic is recommended as initial therapy. There is moderate evidence to support initial or add-on antihypertensive therapy with an angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor or angiotensin receptor blocker in persons with CKD to improve kidney outcomes. Although this guideline provides evidence-based recommendations for the management of high BP and should meet the clinical needs of most patients, these recommendations are not a substitute for clinical judgment, and decisions about care must carefully consider and incorporate the clinical characteristics and circumstances of each individual patient.

Concepts: Chronic kidney disease, Myocardial infarction, Hypertension, Stroke, Blood pressure, Renin-angiotensin system, Angiotensin II receptor antagonist, ACE inhibitor