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1.  Clinical Evaluation of Patients with Spinal Cord Infarction in Mashhad, Iran 
Stroke Research and Treatment  2010;2010:942417.
Background. Spinal Cord Infarction (SCI) is a rare and disabling disease. This hospital-based study was conducted for clinical evaluation of SCI patients in east of Iran. Methods. Consecutive SCI patients admitted in Ghaem hospital,Mashhad during 2006–2010 were enrolled in a prospective clinical study. Diagnosis of SCI was made by neurologists and radiologists. Demographic features, clinical syndrome, and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) findings were recorded. All of the patients underwent a standard battery of diagnostic investigations. All of the patients suspected to SCI had MRI of spinal cord at the symptomatic level of cord with a 0.5 Tesla generation, Philips NT Intra, Netherland equipment. An equal number of patients with Brain Infarction (BI) were randomly selected from our stroke registry data bank. Etiology and degree of disability were compared between these groups of patients. Results. Fourteen SCI patients (9 females, 5 males) with mean age 38.8 ± SD: 19.9 years were evaluated. Miscellaneous causes consisted 50% of etiologies in patients with SCI. Uncertain etiology, atherosclerosis, and cardioembolisms consisted 35.7%, 7.1%, and 7.1% of SCI causes, respectively. Distribution of etiologies was significantly different between SCI and BI patients, X2 = 12.94, df = 3, P = .003. Difference in mean disability score at acute phase of stroke was not significant between two studied groups, z = 1.54, P = .057. Difference in mean changes of disability score at 90 days postevent was significant in two groups of patients, z = 2.65, P = .019. Conclusion. SCI is a rare disease with poor recovery. Distribution of etiologies of SCI patients is quite different than of BI patients.
doi:10.4061/2010/942417
PMCID: PMC2964906  PMID: 21048996
2.  Inflammatory Markers and Poor Outcome after Stroke: A Prospective Cohort Study and Systematic Review of Interleukin-6 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(9):e1000145.
In a prospective cohort study of patient outcomes following stroke, William Whiteley and colleagues find that markers of inflammatory response are associated with poor outcomes. However, addition of these markers to existing prognostic models does not improve outcome prediction.
Background
The objective of this study was to determine whether: (a) markers of acute inflammation (white cell count, glucose, interleukin-6, C-reactive protein, and fibrinogen) are associated with poor outcome after stroke and (b) the addition of markers to previously validated prognostic models improves prediction of poor outcome.
Methods and Findings
We prospectively recruited patients between 2002 and 2005. Clinicians assessed patients and drew blood for inflammatory markers. Patients were followed up by postal questionnaire for poor outcome (a score of>2 on the modified Rankin Scale) and death through the General Register Office (Scotland) at 6 mo. We performed a systematic review of the literature and meta-analysis of the association between interleukin-6 and poor outcome after stroke to place our study in the context of previous research. We recruited 844 patients; mortality data were available in 844 (100%) and functional outcome in 750 (89%). After appropriate adjustment, the odds ratios for the association of markers and poor outcome (comparing the upper and the lower third) were interleukin-6, 3.1 (95% CI: 1.9–5.0); C-reactive protein, 1.9 (95% CI: 1.2–3.1); fibrinogen, 1.5 (95% CI: 1.0–2.36); white cell count, 2.1 (95% CI: 1.3–3.4); and glucose 1.3 (95% CI: 0.8–2.1). The results for interleukin-6 were similar to other studies. However, the addition of inflammatory marker levels to validated prognostic models did not materially improve model discrimination, calibration, or reclassification for prediction of poor outcome after stroke.
Conclusions
Raised levels of markers of the acute inflammatory response after stroke are associated with poor outcomes. However, the addition of these markers to a previously validated stroke prognostic model did not improve the prediction of poor outcome. Whether inflammatory markers are useful in prediction of recurrent stroke or other vascular events is a separate question, which requires further study.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, 15 million people have a stroke. In the US alone, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds and someone dies from a stroke every 3–4 minutes. Stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is suddenly interrupted by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain (ischemic stroke, the commonest type of stroke) or by a blood vessel in the brain bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). Deprived of the oxygen normally carried to them by the blood, the brain cells near the blockage die. The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged but include sudden weakness or paralysis along one side of the body, vision loss in one or both eyes, and confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical assistance immediately because prompt treatment can limit the damage to the brain. Risk factors for stroke include age (three-quarters of strokes occur in people over 65 years old), high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Why Was This Study Done?
Many people are left with permanent disabilities after a stroke. An accurate way to predict the likely long-term outcome (prognosis) for individual patients would help clinicians manage their patients and help relatives and patients come to terms with their changed circumstances. Clinicians can get some idea of their patients' likely outcomes by assessing six simple clinical variables. These include the ability to lift both arms and awareness of the present situation. But could the inclusion of additional variables improve the predictive power of this simple prognostic model? There is some evidence that high levels in the blood of inflammatory markers (for example, interleukin-6 and C-reactive protein) are associated with poor outcomes after stroke—inflammation is the body's response to infection and to damage. In this prospective cohort study, the researchers investigate whether inflammatory markers are associated with poor outcome after stroke and whether the addition of these markers to the six-variable prognostic model improves its predictive power. Prospective cohort studies enroll a group of participants and follow their subsequent progress.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited 844 patients who had had a stroke (mainly mild ischemic strokes) in Edinburgh. Each patient was assessed soon after the stroke by a clinician and blood was taken for the measurement of inflammatory markers. Six months after the stroke, the patient or their relatives completed a postal questionnaire that assessed their progress. Information about patient deaths was obtained from the General Register Office for Scotland. Dependency on others for the activities of daily life or dying was recorded as a poor outcome. In their statistical analysis of these data, the researchers found that raised levels of several inflammatory markers increased the likelihood of a poor outcome. For example, after allowing for age and other factors, individuals with interleukin-6 levels in the upper third of the measured range were three times as likely to have a poor outcome as patients with interleukin-6 levels in the bottom third of the range. A systematic search of the literature revealed that previous studies that had looked at the potential association between interleukin-6 levels and outcome after stroke had found similar results. Finally, the researchers found that the addition of inflammatory marker levels to the six-variable prognostic model did not substantially improve its ability to predict outcome after stroke for this cohort of patients.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide additional support for the idea that increased levels of inflammatory markers are associated with a poor outcome after stroke. However, because patients with infections were not excluded from the study, infection may be responsible for part of the observed association. Importantly, these findings also show that although the inclusion of inflammatory markers in the six variable prognostic model slightly improves its ability to predict outcome, the magnitude of this improvement is too small to warrant the use of these markers in routine practice. Whether the measurement of inflammatory markers might be useful in the prediction of recurrent stroke—at least a quarter of people who survive a stroke will have another one within 5 years—requires further study.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000145.
This study is further discussed in a PLoS Medicine Perspective by Len Kritharides
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); the Know Stroke site provides educational materials about stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation (in English and Spanish)
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service also provides information for patients and their families about stroke (in several languages)
MedlinePlus provides links to further resources and advice about stroke (in English and Spanish)
The six simple variable model for prediction of death or disability after stroke is available here: http://dcnapp1.dcn.ed.ac.uk/scope/
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000145
PMCID: PMC2730573  PMID: 19901973
3.  Safety assessment of anticoagulation therapy in patients with hemorrhagic cerebral venous thrombosis 
Iranian Journal of Neurology  2013;12(3):87-91.
Background
Anticoagulation therapy is a routine treatment in patients with hemorrhagic cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT). However, fear of hemorrhagic complications and deterioration course following anticoagulation often disturbs the responsible physician.
Methods
This was a Prospective observational study on consecutive CVT patients with hemorrhagic venous infarction or subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) admitted in Ghaem Hospital, Mashhad, Iran, during 2006-2012. The diagnosis of CVT in suspected cases was confirmed by magnetic resonance imaging/magnetic resonance venography (MRI/MRV), and computerized tomography (CT) angiography following established diagnostic criteria. Demographic data, clinical manifestations from onset to end of the observation period, location of thrombus, location and size of infarction and hemorrhage, and clinical course during treatment were recorded. Choice of the treatment was left to the opinion of the treating physician. Clinical course during 1 week of treatment was assessed based on the baseline modified National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score. Three or more points decrease or increase of modified NIHSS after 1 week of treatment was considered as improvement or deterioration courses, respectively. Other clinical courses were categorized as stabilization course.
Results
102 hemorrhagic CVT patients (80 females, 22 males) with mean age of 38.6 ± 8 years were prospectively investigated. Of the 102 hemorrhagic CVT patients in the acute phase, 52 patients (50.9%) were anticoagulated with adjusted dose intravenous heparin infusion and 50 cases (49.1%) received subcutaneous enoxaparin 1mg/Kg twice daily. Decreased consciousness had a significant effect on the clinical course of the patients (X2 = 9.493, df = 2, P = 0.009). Presence of SAH had no significant effect on the clinical course of our anticoagulated hemorrhagic CVT cases (X2 = 0.304, df = 2, P = 0.914). Extension of Infarction in more than two thirds of a hemisphere had a significant influence on the distribution of clinical courses (X2 = 5.867, df = 2, P = 0.044). Difference in distribution of clinical course among the two groups of our hemorrhagic CVT patients was not significant (X2 = 8.14, df = 1, P = 0.87).
Conclusion
Patients with hemorrhagic CVT without other contraindication for anticoagulation should be treated either with dose-adjusted intravenous heparin or body-weight-adjusted subcutaneous low molecular-weight heparin.
PMCID: PMC3829295  PMID: 24250911
Cerebral Vein; Thrombus; Hemorrhagic
4.  Stroke risk factors, subtypes, and 30-day case fatality in Abuja, Nigeria 
Background:
Stroke is the second leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability worldwide. A better understanding of stroke risk factors and outcome may help guide efforts at reducing the community burden of stroke. This study aimed to understand stroke risk factors, imaging subtypes, and 30-day outcomes among adult Nigerians.
Materials and Methods:
We prospectively recruited all patients presenting with acute stroke at the National Hospital Abuja between January 2010 and June 2012. We assessed clinical and laboratory variables, as well as brain computerized tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and carotid Doppler ultrasound scans. We also assessed case fatality and functional outcome at 30 days after stroke.
Results:
Of 272 patients studied, 168 (61.8%) were males. Age at presentation (mean ± standard deviation) was 56.4 ± 12.7 years in males and 52.9 ± 14.8 years in females (P = 0.039). Neuroimaging was obtained in 96.7% patients, revealing cerebral infarction (61.8%), intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) (34.8%), and subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) (3.4%). Carotid plaques or stenosis ≥50% were detected in 53.2% patients with cerebral infarction. Stroke risk factors included hypertension (82.7%), obesity (32.6%), diabetes (23.5%), hyperlipidemia (18.4%), atrial fibrillation (9.2%), and cigarette smoking (7.7%). At 30 days after stroke, case-fatality rate was 18.8%, whereas modified Rankin Scale (mRS) scores for cerebral infarction, ICH, and SAH were 3.71, 4.21, and 4.56, respectively. Atrial fibrillation, a previous stroke, and age older than 50 years were all associated with worse mRS scores at 30 days.
Conclusion:
Although hypertension, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and atrial fibrillation were important stroke risk factors, in many patients, these were detected only after a stroke. While the commonest stroke subtype was cerebral infarction, observed in almost two-third of patients, SAH was associated with the highest case-fatality rate at 30 days of 44.4%. Larger population-based studies may provide additional data on stroke incidence and outcome among Nigerians.
doi:10.4103/0300-1652.110051
PMCID: PMC3687865  PMID: 23798800
Case fatality; cerebral infarction; hypertension; Nigeria; stroke
5.  Inter-rater reliability of modified Alberta Stroke program early computerized tomography score in patients with brain infarction 
BACKGROUND:
The Alberta Stroke Program Early Computerized Tomography Score (ASPECTS) was used to detect significant early ischemic changes on brain CT of acute stroke patients. We designed the modified ASPECTS and compared it to the above system based on the inter-rater reliability.
METHODS:
A cross-sectional validation study was conducted based on the inter-rater reliability. The CT images were chosen from the stroke data bank of Ghaem hospital, Mashhad in 2010. The inclusion criteria were the presence of middle cerebral artery territory infarction and performance of CT within 6 hours after stroke onset. Axial CT scans were performed on a third-generation CT scanner (Siemens, ARTX, Germany). Section thickness above posterior fossa was 10 mm (130 kV, 150 mAs). Films were made at window level of 35 HU. The brain CTs were scored by four independent radiologists based on the ASPECTS and modified ASPECTS. The readers were blind to clinical information except symptom side. Cochrane Q and Kappa tests served for statistical analysis.
RESULTS:
24 CT scans were available and of sufficient quality. Difference in distribution of dichotomized ≤7 and >7 ASPECT scores between four raters was significant (Q=13.071, df=3, p=0.04). Distribution of dichotomized <6 and ≥6 scores based on modified ASPECT system between 4 raters was not significantly different (Q=6.349, df=3, p=0.096).
CONCLUSIONS:
Modified ASPECT method is more reliable than ASPECTS in detecting major early ischemic changes in stroke patients candidated to tPA thrombolysis.
PMCID: PMC3430023  PMID: 22973327
Computed Tomography; Cerebral Infarction; Thrombolysis; Inter-Rater Reliability
6.  Uncovering Treatment Burden as a Key Concept for Stroke Care: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(6):e1001473.
In a systematic review of qualitative research, Katie Gallacher and colleagues examine the evidence related to treatment burden after stroke from the patient perspective.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Patients with chronic disease may experience complicated management plans requiring significant personal investment. This has been termed ‘treatment burden’ and has been associated with unfavourable outcomes. The aim of this systematic review is to examine the qualitative literature on treatment burden in stroke from the patient perspective.
Methods and Findings
The search strategy centred on: stroke, treatment burden, patient experience, and qualitative methods. We searched: Scopus, CINAHL, Embase, Medline, and PsycINFO. We tracked references, footnotes, and citations. Restrictions included: English language, date of publication January 2000 until February 2013. Two reviewers independently carried out the following: paper screening, data extraction, and data analysis. Data were analysed using framework synthesis, as informed by Normalization Process Theory. Sixty-nine papers were included. Treatment burden includes: (1) making sense of stroke management and planning care, (2) interacting with others, (3) enacting management strategies, and (4) reflecting on management. Health care is fragmented, with poor communication between patient and health care providers. Patients report inadequate information provision. Inpatient care is unsatisfactory, with a perceived lack of empathy from professionals and a shortage of stimulating activities on the ward. Discharge services are poorly coordinated, and accessing health and social care in the community is difficult. The study has potential limitations because it was restricted to studies published in English only and data from low-income countries were scarce.
Conclusions
Stroke management is extremely demanding for patients, and treatment burden is influenced by micro and macro organisation of health services. Knowledge deficits mean patients are ill equipped to organise their care and develop coping strategies, making adherence less likely. There is a need to transform the approach to care provision so that services are configured to prioritise patient needs rather than those of health care systems.
Systematic Review Registration
International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews CRD42011001123
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, 15 million people have a stroke. About 5 million of these people die within a few days, and another 5 million are left disabled. Stroke occurs when the blood supply of the brain is suddenly interrupted by a blood vessel in the brain being blocked by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). Deprived of the oxygen normally carried to them by the blood, the brain cells near the blockage die. The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged but include sudden weakness or paralysis along one side of the body, vision loss in one or both eyes, and confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention because prompt treatment can limit the damage to the brain. In the longer term, post-stroke rehabilitation can help individuals overcome the physical disabilities caused by stroke, and drugs that thin the blood, reduce blood pressure and reduce cholesterol (major risk factors for stroke) alongside behavioral counseling can reduce the risk of a second stroke.
Why Was This Study Done?
Treatment for, and rehabilitation from, stroke is a lengthy process that requires considerable personal investment from the patient. The term “treatment burden” describes the self-care practices that patients with stroke and other chronic diseases must perform to follow the complicated management strategies that have been developed for these conditions. Unfortunately, treatment burden can overwhelm patients. They may be unable to cope with the multiple demands placed on them by health-care providers and systems for their self-care, a situation that leads to poor adherence to therapies and poor outcomes. For example, patients may find it hard to complete all the exercises designed to help them regain full movement of their limbs after a stroke. Treatment burden has been poorly examined in relation to stroke. Here, the researchers identify and describe the treatment burden in stroke by undertaking a systematic review (a study that uses predefined criteria to identify all the literature on a given topic) of qualitative studies on the patient experience of stroke management. Qualitative studies collect non-quantitative data so, for example, a qualitative study on stroke treatment might ask people how the treatment made them feel whereas a quantitative study might compare clinical outcomes between those receiving and not receiving the treatment.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified 69 qualitative studies dealing with the experiences of stroke management of adult patients and analyzed the data in these papers using framework synthesis—an approach that divides data into thematic categories. Specifically, the researchers used a coding framework informed by normalization process theory, a sociological theory of the implementation, embedding and integration of tasks and practices; embedding is the process of making tasks and practices a routine part of everyday life and integration refers to sustaining these embedded practices. The researchers identified four main areas of treatment burden for stroke: making sense of stroke management and planning care; interacting with others, including health care professionals, family and other patients with stroke; enacting management strategies (including enduring institutional admissions, managing stroke in the community, reintegrating into society and adjusting to life after stroke); and reflecting on management to make decisions about self-care. Moreover, they identified problems in all these areas, including inadequate provision of information, poor communication with health-care providers, and unsatisfactory inpatient care.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that stroke management is extremely demanding for patients and is influenced by both the micro and macro organization of health services. At the micro organizational level, fragmented care and poor communication between patients and clinicians and between health-care providers can mean patients are ill equipped to organize their care and develop coping strategies, which makes adherence to management strategies less likely. At the macro organizational level, it can be hard for patients to obtain the practical and financial help they need to manage their stroke in the community. Overall, these findings suggest that care provision for stroke needs to be transformed so that the needs of patients rather than the needs of health-care systems are prioritized. Further work is required, however, to understand how the patient experience of treatment burden is affected by the clinical characteristics of stroke, by disability level, and by other co-existing diseases. By undertaking such work, it should be possible to generate a patient-reported outcome measure of treatment burden that, if used by policy makers and health-care providers, has the potential to improve the quality of stroke care.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001473.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); its Know Stroke site provides educational materials about stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation including personal stories (in English and Spanish); the US National Institutes of Health SeniorHealth website has additional information about stroke
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families, and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information about stroke for patients and their families, including personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to additional resources about stroke (in English and Spanish)
The UK not-for-profit website Healthtalkonline provides personal stories about stroke
Wikipedia provides information on the burden of treatment and on the normalization process theory (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001473
PMCID: PMC3692487  PMID: 23824703
7.  Estimates of Outcomes Up to Ten Years after Stroke: Analysis from the Prospective South London Stroke Register 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(5):e1001033.
Charles Wolfe and colleagues collected data from the South London Stroke Register on 3,373 first strokes registered between 1995 and 2006 and showed that between 20% and 30% of survivors have poor outcomes up to 10 years after stroke.
Background
Although stroke is acknowledged as a long-term condition, population estimates of outcomes longer term are lacking. Such estimates would be useful for planning health services and developing research that might ultimately improve outcomes. This burden of disease study provides population-based estimates of outcomes with a focus on disability, cognition, and psychological outcomes up to 10 y after initial stroke event in a multi-ethnic European population.
Methods and Findings
Data were collected from the population-based South London Stroke Register, a prospective population-based register documenting all first in a lifetime strokes since 1 January 1995 in a multi-ethnic inner city population. The outcomes assessed are reported as estimates of need and included disability (Barthel Index <15), inactivity (Frenchay Activities Index <15), cognitive impairment (Abbreviated Mental Test < 8 or Mini-Mental State Exam <24), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale >10), and mental and physical domain scores of the Medical Outcomes Study 12-item short form (SF-12) health survey. Estimates were stratified by age, gender, and ethnicity, and age-adjusted using the standard European population. Plots of outcome estimates over time were constructed to examine temporal trends and sociodemographic differences. Between 1995 and 2006, 3,373 first-ever strokes were registered: 20%–30% of survivors had a poor outcome over 10 y of follow-up. The highest rate of disability was observed 7 d after stroke and remained at around 110 per 1,000 stroke survivors from 3 mo to 10 y. Rates of inactivity and cognitive impairment both declined up to 1 y (280/1,000 and 180/1,000 survivors, respectively); thereafter rates of inactivity remained stable till year eight, then increased, whereas rates of cognitive impairment fluctuated till year eight, then increased. Anxiety and depression showed some fluctuation over time, with a rate of 350 and 310 per 1,000 stroke survivors, respectively. SF-12 scores showed little variation from 3 mo to 10 y after stroke. Inactivity was higher in males at all time points, and in white compared to black stroke survivors, although black survivors reported better outcomes in the SF-12 physical domain. No other major differences were observed by gender or ethnicity. Increased age was associated with higher rates of disability, inactivity, and cognitive impairment.
Conclusions
Between 20% and 30% of stroke survivors have a poor range of outcomes up to 10 y after stroke. Such epidemiological data demonstrate the sociodemographic groups that are most affected longer term and should be used to develop longer term management strategies that reduce the significant poor outcomes of this group, for whom effective interventions are currently elusive.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, 15 million people have a stroke. About 5 million of these people die within a few days, and another 5 million are left disabled. Stroke occurs when the brain's blood supply is suddenly interrupted by a blood clot blocking a blood vessel in the brain (ischemic stroke, the commonest type of stroke) or by a blood vessel in the brain bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). Deprived of the oxygen normally carried to them by the blood, the brain cells near the blockage die. The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged but include sudden weakness or paralysis along one side of the body, vision loss in one or both eyes, and confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention because prompt treatment can limit the damage to the brain. Risk factors for stroke include age (three-quarters of strokes occur in people over 65 years old), high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Why Was This Study Done?
Post-stroke rehabilitation can help individuals overcome the physical disabilities caused by stroke, and drugs and behavioral counseling can reduce the risk of a second stroke. However, people can also have problems with cognition (thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgment, and memory) after a stroke, and they can become depressed or anxious. These “outcomes” can persist for many years, but although stroke is acknowledged as a long-term condition, most existing data on stroke outcomes are limited to a year after the stroke and often focus on disability alone. Longer term, more extensive information is needed to help plan services and to help develop research to improve outcomes. In this burden of disease analysis, the researchers use follow-up data collected by the prospective South London Stroke Register (SLSR) to provide long-term population-based estimates of disability, cognition, and psychological outcomes after a first stroke. The SLSR has recorded and followed all patients of all ages in an inner area of South London after their first-ever stroke since 1995.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between 1995 and 2006, the SLSR recorded 3,373 first-ever strokes. Patients were examined within 48 hours of referral to SLSR, their stroke diagnosis was verified, and their sociodemographic characteristics (including age, gender, and ethnic origin) were recorded. Study nurses and fieldworkers then assessed the patients at three months and annually after the stroke for disability (using the Barthel Index, which measures the ability to, for example, eat unaided), inactivity (using the Frenchay Activities Index, which measures participation in social activities), and cognitive impairment (using the Abbreviated Mental Test or the Mini-Mental State Exam). Anxiety and depression and the patients' perceptions of their mental and physical capabilities were also assessed. Using preset cut-offs for each outcome, 20%–30% of stroke survivors had a poor outcome over ten years of follow-up. So, for example, 110 individuals per 1,000 population were judged disabled from three months to ten years, rates of inactivity remained constant from year one to year eight, at 280 affected individuals per 1,000 survivors, and rates of anxiety and depression fluctuated over time but affected about a third of the population. Notably, levels of inactivity were higher among men than women at all time points and were higher in white than in black stroke survivors. Finally, increased age was associated with higher rates of disability, inactivity, and cognitive impairment.
What Do These Findings Mean?
Although the accuracy of these findings may be affected by the loss of some patients to follow-up, these population-based estimates of outcome measures for survivors of a first-ever stroke for up to ten years after the event provide concrete evidence that stroke is a lifelong condition with ongoing poor outcomes. They also identify the sociodemographic groups of patients that are most affected in the longer term. Importantly, most of the measured outcomes remain relatively constant (and worse than outcomes in an age-matched non-stroke-affected population) after 3–12 months, a result that needs to be considered when planning services for stroke survivors. In other words, these findings highlight the need for health and social services to provide long-term, ongoing assessment and rehabilitation for patients for many years after a stroke.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001033.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); the US National Institute of Health SeniorHealth Web site has additional information about stroke
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families, and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site also provides information about stroke for patients and their families
MedlinePlus has links to additional resources about stroke (in English and Spanish)
More information about the South London Stroke Register is available
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001033
PMCID: PMC3096613  PMID: 21610863
8.  Severity of leukoaraiosis correlates with clinical outcome after ischemic stroke 
Neurology  2009;72(16):1403-1410.
Background:
Leukoaraiosis (LA) is closely associated with aging, a major determinant of clinical outcome after ischemic stroke. In this study we sought to identify whether LA, independent of advancing age, affects outcome after acute ischemic stroke.
Methods:
LA volume was quantified in 240 patients with ischemic stroke and MRI within 24 hours of symptom onset. We explored the relationship between LA volume at admission and clinical outcome at 6 months, as assessed by the modified Rankin Scale (mRS). An ordinal logistic regression model was developed to analyze the independent effect of LA volume on clinical outcome.
Results:
Bivariate analyses showed a significant correlation between LA volume and mRS at 6 months (r = 0.19, p = 0.003). Mean mRS was 1.7 ± 1.8 among those in the lowest (≤1.2 mL) and 2.5 ± 1.9 in the highest (>9.9 mL) quartiles of LA volume (p = 0.01). The unfavorable prognostic effect of LA volume on clinical outcome was retained in the multivariable model (p = 0.002), which included age, gender, stroke risk factors (hypertension, diabetes mellitus, atrial fibrillation), previous history of brain infarction, admission plasma glucose level, admission NIH Stroke Scale score, IV rtPA treatment, and acute infarct volume on MRI as covariates.
Conclusions:
The volume of leukoaraiosis is a predictor of clinical outcome after ischemic stroke and this relationship persists after adjustment for important prognostic factors including age, initial stroke severity, and infarct volume.
GLOSSARY
= Causative Classification of Stroke;
= cardioaortic embolism;
= confidence interval;
= diffusion-weighted imaging;
= fluid-attenuated inversion recovery;
= interquartile range;
= leukoaraiosis;
= large artery atherosclerosis;
= modified Rankin Scale;
= National Institute of Health Stroke Scale;
= odds ratio;
= recombinant tissue plasminogen activator;
= small artery occlusion;
= Screening Technology and Outcome Project in Stroke Study;
= undetermined/unclassified.
doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e3181a18823
PMCID: PMC2677507  PMID: 19380699
9.  Risk factors of short-term stroke recurrence in patients with minor ischemic cerebrovascular events 
ARYA Atherosclerosis  2013;9(2):119-127.
BACKGROUND
Assessing the risk of recurrent ischemic events in patients with transient ischemic attack (TIA) and minor ischemic stroke (MIS) is of a great importance in clinical practice.
METHODS
Consecutive patients with TIA or MIS who were visited in Ghaem Hospital, (Mashhad, Iran) were enrolled in a prospective cohort study during 2010 to 2011. Diagnosis of TIA or MIS was accomplished by a stroke neurologist. Only those who presented within 24 hours from the onset of symptoms were recruited. MIS was considered as an ischemic stroke with National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) < 4. The endpoint of the study was a new ischemic cerebrovascular event or vascular death in 90 days and additionally in 3 days. The decision to admit and type of treatment in each case was left to the discretion of the stroke neurologist. The association between 20 potential factors with recurrent ischemic events in 3 and 90 days was investigated using univariate and multivariate analysis (MVA).
RESULTS
393 TIA patients (238 males and 155 females) and 118 MIS patients (77 males and 41 females) were enrolled in the study. Stroke occurred in 117 (23.2%) patients, TIA in 99 (19.6%), and there was 11 (2.2%) vascular deaths within 3 months in the total 511 patients with minor ischemic events. Crescendo TIAs and multiple TIAs were associated with greater risk of stroke in 3 days in a univariate analysis (OR = 5.12, P < 0.001) and (OR = 3.98, P = 0.003), respectively. Patients with index stroke had 11.5% lower risk of recurrent stroke in 3 days than patients with index TIA in multivariate analysis (OR = 0.115, P = 0.039). Diabetes was independently associated with 3 months stroke recurrence in the patients with minor ischemic events (OR = 2.65, P = 0.039).
CONCLUSION
Multiple and crescendo TIAs are the main predictors of stroke recurrence, derived from the univariate analysis of the patients with minor ischemic events.
PMCID: PMC3653243  PMID: 23690811
Transient Ischemic Attacks; Infarction; Brain; Recurrence; Risk
10.  Anatomical Alterations of the Visual Motion Processing Network in Migraine with and without Aura 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(10):e402.
Background
Patients suffering from migraine with aura (MWA) and migraine without aura (MWoA) show abnormalities in visual motion perception during and between attacks. Whether this represents the consequences of structural changes in motion-processing networks in migraineurs is unknown. Moreover, the diagnosis of migraine relies on patient's history, and finding differences in the brain of migraineurs might help to contribute to basic research aimed at better understanding the pathophysiology of migraine.
Methods and Findings
To investigate a common potential anatomical basis for these disturbances, we used high-resolution cortical thickness measurement and diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to examine the motion-processing network in 24 migraine patients (12 with MWA and 12 MWoA) and 15 age-matched healthy controls (HCs). We found increased cortical thickness of motion-processing visual areas MT+ and V3A in migraineurs compared to HCs. Cortical thickness increases were accompanied by abnormalities of the subjacent white matter. In addition, DTI revealed that migraineurs have alterations in superior colliculus and the lateral geniculate nucleus, which are also involved in visual processing.
Conclusions
A structural abnormality in the network of motion-processing areas could account for, or be the result of, the cortical hyperexcitability observed in migraineurs. The finding in patients with both MWA and MWoA of thickness abnormalities in area V3A, previously described as a source in spreading changes involved in visual aura, raises the question as to whether a “silent” cortical spreading depression develops as well in MWoA. In addition, these experimental data may provide clinicians and researchers with a noninvasively acquirable migraine biomarker.
A structural abnormality in the network of motion-processing areas could account for, or be the result of, the cortical hyperexcitability seen in people who have migraine.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Migraine is a disabling brain disorder that affects more than one in ten people during their lifetimes. It is characterized by severe, recurrent headaches, often accompanied by nausea, vomiting, and light sensitivity. In some migraineurs (people who have migraines), the headaches are preceded by neurological disturbances known as “aura.” These usually affect vision, causing illusions of flashing lights, zig-zag lines, or blind spots. There are many triggers for migraine attacks—including some foods, stress, and bright lights—and every migraineur has to learn what triggers his or her attacks. There is no cure for migraine, although over-the-counter painkillers can ease the symptoms and doctors can prescribe stronger remedies or drugs to reduce the frequency of attacks. Exactly what causes migraine is unclear but scientists think that, for some reason, the brains of migraineurs are hyperexcitable. That is, some nerve cells in their brains overreact when they receive electrical messages from the body. This triggers a local disturbance of brain function called “cortical spreading depression,” which, in turn, causes aura, headache, and the other symptoms of migraine.
Why Was This Study Done?
Researchers need to know more about what causes migraine to find better treatments. One clue comes from the observation that motion perception is abnormal in migraineurs, even between attacks—they can be very sensitive to visually induced motion sickness, for example. Another clue is that aura are usually visual. So could brain regions that process visual information be abnormal in people who have migraines? In this study, the researchers investigated the structure of the motion processing parts of the brain in people who have migraine with aura, in people who have migraine without aura, and in unaffected individuals to see whether there were any differences that might help them understand migraine.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used two forms of magnetic resonance imaging—a noninvasive way to produce pictures of internal organs—to examine the brains of migraineurs (when they weren't having a migraine) and healthy controls. They concentrated on two brain regions involved in motion processing known as the MT+ and V3A areas and first measured the cortical thickness of these areas—the cortex is the wrinkled layer of gray matter on the outside of the brain that processes information sent from the body. They found that the cortical thickness was increased in both of these areas in migraineurs when compared to healthy controls. There was no difference in cortical thickness between migraineurs who had aura and those who did not, but the area of cortical thickening in V3A corresponded to the source of cortical spreading depression previously identified in a person who had migraine with aura. The researchers also found differences between the white matter (the part of the brain that transfers information between different regions of the gray matter) immediately below the V3A and MT+ areas in the migraineurs and the controls but again not between the two groups of migraineurs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
This study provides new information about migraine. First, it identifies structural changes in the brains of people who have migraines. Until now, it has been thought that abnormal brain function causes migraine but that migraineurs have a normal brain structure. The observed structural differences might either account for or be caused by the hyperexcitability that triggers migraines. Because migraine runs in families, examining the brains of children of migraineurs as they grow up might indicate which of these options is correct, although it is possible that abnormalities in brain areas not examined here actually trigger migraines. Second, the study addresses a controversial question about migraine: Is migraine with aura the same as migraine without aura? The similar brain changes in both types of migraine suggest that they are one disorder. Third, the abnormalities in areas MT+ and V3A could help to explain why migraineurs have problems with visual processing even in between attacks. Finally, this study suggests that it might be possible to develop a noninvasive test to help doctors diagnose migraine.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030402.
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has several pages on migraine
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke offers patient information on migraine and other headaches
The NHS Direct Online contains patient information on migraine from the UK National Health Service
MAGNUM provides information from The US National Migraine Association
The Migraine Trust is a UK charity that supports research and provides support for patients
The Migraine Aura Foundation is a site about aura that includes a section on art and aura
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030402
PMCID: PMC1609120  PMID: 17048979
11.  Modifiable Etiological Factors and the Burden of Stroke from the Rotterdam Study: A Population-Based Cohort Study 
PLoS Medicine  2014;11(4):e1001634.
Using data from the Rotterdam study, Michiel Bos and colleagues estimate the proportion of strokes that are attributable to established modifiable etiological factors for stroke.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Background
Stroke prevention requires effective treatment of its causes. Many etiological factors for stroke have been identified, but the potential gain of effective intervention on these factors in terms of numbers of actually prevented strokes remains unclear because of the lack of data from cohort studies. We assessed the impact of currently known potentially modifiable etiological factors on the occurrence of stroke.
Methods and Findings
This population-based cohort study was based on 6,844 participants of the Rotterdam Study who were aged ≥55 y and free from stroke at baseline (1990–1993). We computed population attributable risks (PARs) for individual risk factors and for risk factors in combination to estimate the proportion of strokes that could theoretically be prevented by the elimination of etiological factors from the population.
The mean age at baseline was 69.4 y (standard deviation 6.3 y). During follow-up (mean follow-up 12.9 y, standard deviation 6.3 y), 1,020 strokes occurred. The age- and sex-adjusted combined PAR of prehypertension/hypertension, smoking, diabetes mellitus, atrial fibrillation, coronary disease, and overweight/obesity was 0.51 (95% CI 0.41–0.62) for any stroke; hypertension and smoking were the most important etiological factors. C-reactive protein, fruit and vegetable consumption, and carotid intima-media thickness in combination raised the total PAR by 0.06. The PAR was 0.55 (95% CI 0.41–0.68) for ischemic stroke and 0.70 (95% CI 0.45–0.87) for hemorrhagic stroke.
The main limitations of our study are that our study population comprises almost exclusively Caucasians who live in a middle and high income area, and that risk factor awareness is higher in a study cohort than in the general population.
Conclusions
About half of all strokes are attributable to established causal and modifiable factors. This finding encourages not only intervention on established etiological factors, but also further study of less well established factors.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, 15 million people worldwide have a stroke. About 6 million of these people die within hours, and another 5 million are left disabled. Stroke occurs when the brain's blood supply is suddenly interrupted by a blood vessel in the brain being blocked by a blood clot (ischemic stroke) or bursting (hemorrhagic stroke). Deprived of the oxygen normally carried to them by the blood, the brain cells near the blockage die. The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged but include sudden weakness or paralysis along one side of the body, vision loss in one or both eyes, and trouble speaking or understanding speech. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention because prompt treatment can limit the damage to the brain. In the longer term, post-stroke rehabilitation can help overcome the disabilities caused by stroke, and various drugs alongside behavioral counselling can reduce the risk of a second stroke.
Why Was This Study Done?
Fifty years ago, it was discovered that treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension) reduces the risk of stroke among people with severe hypertension. This discovery led researchers to search for other potentially modifiable etiological factors for stroke (risk factors that cause stroke). The list of established etiological factors now includes smoking, diabetes, atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat), heart disease, and overweight/obesity, in addition to hypertension. But how many strokes would modification of these causal risk factors prevent? In this population-based cohort study, the researchers calculate the individual and combined population attributable risks (PARs) for these established etiological factors to provide an estimate of what proportion of strokes could theoretically be prevented by optimal treatment of known etiological factors. A population-based cohort study enrolls a group of people, determines their characteristics at baseline, and follows them to see whether specific characteristics are associated with specific outcomes. A PAR of an etiological factor for a disease indicates the proportion of that disease in the population that would not occur in the absence of the risk factor.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used data from 6,844 participants in the Rotterdam Study, which was designed to investigate the causes and consequences of long-term and disabling diseases in the elderly. At baseline, all of the participants were over 55 years old and free from stroke. During follow-up, 1,020 strokes occurred among the participants. Using data on exposure at baseline to various etiological factors for stroke, the researchers calculated PARs for individual factors and used a special statistical technique to calculate PARs for the factors in combination. The combined PAR of prehypertension/hypertension, smoking, diabetes, atrial fibrillation, heart disease, and overweight/obesity was 0.51 for any stroke. That is, about half of the strokes in the study population were attributable to this combination of etiological factors. Hypertension and smoking were the most important individual factors (PARs of 0.36 and 0.16, respectively). Notably, the inclusion of several less well established etiological factors (increased blood levels of C-reactive protein, low fruit and vegetable consumption, and thickening of the lining of arteries) only raised the total PAR for any stroke by 0.06.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that about half of the strokes in the study cohort were attributable to established modifiable etiological factors and could theoretically be prevented by eliminating these risk factors from the population. Previous studies have estimated that a larger proportion of strokes could be prevented by eliminating known etiological factors. The researchers acknowledge that some aspects of their study may have led to an underestimation of the proportion of stroke attributable to established etiological factors and note that their findings may not be generalizable to underprivileged or racially diverse populations. Nevertheless, they argue that previous studies are likely to have overestimated the PARs for stroke because they were based on case–control studies (in which exposure to etiological factors was assessed after a stroke had occurred in cases and control individuals, rather than before a stroke as in a population-based cohort study) and often did not use optimal statistical techniques to calculate the total PAR. Importantly, these new findings underscore the importance of interventions targeted at reducing smoking and hypertension and support the search for additional etiological factors for stroke.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001634.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information about all aspects of stroke (in English and Spanish); its Know Stroke site provides educational materials about stroke prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation including personal stories (in English and Spanish); the US National Institutes of Health SeniorHealth website has additional information about stroke
The Internet Stroke Center provides detailed information about stroke for patients, families, and health professionals (in English and Spanish)
The UK National Health Service Choices website also provides information about stroke for patients and their families, including personal stories
MedlinePlus has links to additional resources about stroke (in English and Spanish)
Information about the Rotterdam Study is available
The UK not-for-profit website Healthtalkonline provides personal stories about stroke
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001634
PMCID: PMC4004543  PMID: 24781247
12.  A comparative study into the one year cumulative incidence of depression after stroke and myocardial infarction 
Background: The high incidence of post-stroke depression has been claimed to reflect a specific, stroke related pathogenesis in which lesion location plays an important role. To substantiate this claim, post-stroke depression should occur more often than depression after another acute, life threatening, disabling disease that does not involve cerebrovascular damage.
Objectives: To compare the cumulative one year incidence of depression after stroke and after myocardial infarction, taking into consideration differences in age, sex, and the level of handicap.
Methods: In a longitudinal design, 190 first ever stroke patients and 200 first ever myocardial infarction patients were followed up for one year. Depression self rating scales were used as a screening instrument to detect patients with depressive symptoms. Major and minor depression was assessed at one, three, six, nine, and 12 months after stroke or myocardial infarction according to DSM-IV criteria, using the structured clinical interview from DSM-IV. The severity of depressive symptoms was measured with the Hamilton depression rating scale. Level of disability and handicap was rated with the Rankin handicap scale.
Results: The cumulative one year incidence of major and minor depression was 37.8% in stroke patients and 25% in patients with myocardial infarction (hazard ratio 1.6; p = 0.06). This difference disappeared after controlling for sex, age, and level of handicap. In addition, no differences were found in the severity of depressive symptoms or in the time of onset of the depressive episode after stroke or myocardial infarction.
Conclusions: Depression occurs equally often during the first year after stroke and after myocardial infarction when non-specific factors such as sex, age, and level of handicap are taken into account. Thus the relatively high incidence of post-stroke depression seems not to reflect a specific pathogenic mechanism. Further research is needed to investigate whether vascular factors play a common role in the development of depression after stroke and myocardial infarction.
doi:10.1136/jnnp.74.5.581
PMCID: PMC1738412  PMID: 12700297
13.  Plasma brain natriuretic peptide as a surrogate marker for cardioembolic stroke 
BMC Neurology  2008;8:45.
Background
Cardioembolic stroke generally results in more severe disability, since it typically has a larger ischemic area than the other types of ischemic stroke. However, it is difficult to differentiate cardioembolic stroke from non-cardioembolic stroke (atherothrombotic stroke and lacunar stroke). In this study, we evaluated the levels of plasma brain natriuretic peptide in acute ischemic stroke patients with cardioembolic stroke or non-cardioembolic stroke, and assessed the prediction factors of plasma brain natriuretic peptide and whether we could differentiate between stroke subtypes on the basis of plasma brain natriuretic peptide concentrations in addition to patient's clinical variables.
Methods
Our patient cohort consisted of 131 consecutive patients with acute cerebral infarction who were admitted to Kagawa University School of Medicine Hospital from January 1, 2005 to December 31, 2007. The mean age of patients (43 females, 88 males) was 69.6 ± 10.1 years. Sixty-two patients had cardioembolic stroke; the remaining 69 patients had non-cardioembolic stroke (including atherothrombotic stroke, lacunar stroke, or the other). Clinical variables and the plasma brain natriuretic peptide were evaluated in all patients.
Results
Plasma brain natriuretic peptide was linearly associated with atrial fibrillation, heart failure, chronic renal failure, and left atrial diameter, independently (F4,126 = 27.6, p < 0.0001; adjusted R2 = 0.45). Furthermore, atrial fibrillation, mitral regurgitation, plasma brain natriuretic peptide (> 77 pg/ml), and left atrial diameter (> 36 mm) were statistically significant independent predictors of cardioembolic stroke in the multivariable setting (Χ2 = 127.5, p < 0.001).
Conclusion
It was suggested that cardioembolic stroke was strongly predicted with atrial fibrillation and plasma brain natriuretic peptide. Plasma brain natriuretic peptide can be a surrogate marker for cardioembolic stroke.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-8-45
PMCID: PMC2621245  PMID: 19077217
14.  The Outcome of Patients with Mild Stroke Improves after Treatment with Systemic Thrombolysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e59420.
Introduction
In up to one third of patients with mild stroke suitable to receive systemic thrombolysis the treatment is not administered because the treating physicians estimate a good spontaneous recovery. However, it is not settled whether the fate of these patients is equivalent to those who are thrombolysed.
Methods
We analyzed 203 consecutive patients (134 men and 69 women, mean age 69±14 years) without premorbid disability and a NIHSS score ≤5 at admission [median 3 (IQR 2–4)]. Intravenous thrombolysis was administered within 4.5 hours from stroke onset (n = 119), or it was withheld (n = 84) whenever the treating physician predicted a spontaneous recovery. The baseline risk factors, clinical course, infarction volume, bleeding complications, and functional outcome at 3 months were analyzed and declared to a Web-based registry which was accessible to the local Health Authorities.
Results
Expectedly, not thrombolysed patients had the mildest strokes at admission [median 2 (IQR 1–3.75)]. At day 2 to 5, the infarct volume on DWI-MRI was similar in both groups. There were no symptomatic cerebral bleedings in the study. An ordinal regression model adjusted for baseline stroke severity showed that thrombolysis was associated with a greater proportion of patients who shifted down on the modified Rankin Scale score at 3 months (OR 2.66; 95% CI 1.49–4.74, p = 0.001).
Conclusions
Intravenous thrombolysis seems to be safe in patients with mild stroke and may be associated with improved outcome compared with untreated patients. These results support the evaluation of the efficacy of intravenous thrombolysis in mild stroke patients in randomized clinical trials.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0059420
PMCID: PMC3602063  PMID: 23527192
15.  Risk of recurrent stroke in patients with silent brain infarction in the PRoFESS Imaging Substudy 
Background and Purpose
Silent brain infarctions are associated with an increased risk of stroke in healthy individuals. Risk of recurrent stroke in patients with both symptomatic and silent brain infarction (SBI) has only been investigated in patients with cardioembolic stroke in the European Atrial Fibrillation Trial. We assessed whether patients with recent non-cardioembolic stroke and SBI detected on MRI are at increased risk for recurrent stroke, other cardiovascular events, and mortality.
Methods
The prevalence of SBI detected on MRI was assessed in 1014 patients enrolled in the imaging substudy of the Prevention Regimen for Effectively Avoiding Second Strokes (PRoFESS) trial. The primary outcome was first recurrence of stroke in patients with both symptomatic stroke and SBI in comparison with age and sex matched stroke patients without SBI. Secondary outcomes were a combined vascular endpoint, other vascular events and mortality. The two groups were compared using conditional logistic regression.
Results
Silent brain infarction was detected in 207 (20.4%) patients of the 1014 patients. Twenty-seven (13.0%) patients with SBI and 19 (9.2%) without SBI had a recurrent stroke (odds ratio 1.42, 95% confidence interval 0.79 to 2.56; p=0.24) during a mean follow-op of 2.5 years. Similarly, there was no statistically significant difference for all secondary outcome parameters between patients with SBI and matched patients without SBI.
Conclusion
The presence of SBI in patients with recent mild non-cardioembolic ischemic stroke could not be shown to be an independent risk factor for recurrent stroke, other vascular events, or a higher mortality.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.631739
PMCID: PMC3266606  PMID: 22267825
Cerebral infarction; silent brain infarction; ischemic stroke; magnetic resonance imaging; mortality
16.  Patent Foramen Ovale, Subclinical Cerebrovascular Disease and Ischemic Stroke in a Population-Based Cohort 
Objectives
To evaluate the relationship between patent foramen ovale (PFO), ischemic stroke and subclinical cerebrovascular disease in the general population.
Background
PFO is more frequently found in stroke patients than in stroke-free controls. However, the PFO-related stroke risk in the general population is not well established, and the relationship between PFO and silent brain infarcts (SBI) is not known.
Methods
PFO presence was assessed by transthoracic echocardiography with saline contrast injection in 1,100 stroke-free individuals over age 39 of a community-based sample followed for a mean of 11 years. In addition, 360 participants underwent brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for SBI detection. We evaluated the risk of stroke associated with PFO after adjusting for established stroke risk factors, and examined the odds of having SBI among those with and without PFO.
Results
A PFO was present in 164 participants (14.9%). Over a mean follow up of 11.0 ± 4.5 years, 111 ischemic strokes occurred (10.1%), 15 (9.2%) in the PFO + and 96 (10.3%) in the PFO− groups. The 12.5 year cumulative risk of stroke was 10.1% (standard error 2.5%) in the PFO+ and 10.4% (standard error 1.1%) in the PFO− group (p=0.46). The adjusted hazard ratio for PFO and stroke was 1.10 (95% confidence interval 0.64–1.91). In the MRI subcohort, PFO was not associated with SBI (adjusted odds ratio 1.15, 95% CI 0.50–2.62).
Conclusions
In this community-based cohort, PFO was not associated with an increased risk of clinical stroke or subclinical cerebrovascular disease.
doi:10.1016/j.jacc.2013.03.064
PMCID: PMC3696432  PMID: 23644084
Echocardiography; Cerebrovascular Disorders; Atrium; Stroke; Epidemiology
17.  A Trial of Imaging Selection and Endovascular Treatment for Ischemic Stroke 
The New England journal of medicine  2013;368(10):914-923.
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 non-penumbral 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 ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00389467.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1212793
PMCID: PMC3690785  PMID: 23394476
18.  Cognitive profile in patients with a first-ever lacunar infarct with and without silent lacunes: a comparative study 
BMC Neurology  2013;13:203.
Background
The detection of early neuropsychological abnormalities as precursors of cognitive decline of vascular origin in patients with lacunar stroke is a subject of increasing interest. The objective of this study was to assess whether there were differences in the performance of a battery of neuropsychological tests in first-ever lacunar stroke patients with and without associated silent multiple lacunar infarctions found incidentally on the brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan.
Methods
A total of 72 consecutive patients with first-ever lacunar infarction were studied 1 month after stroke. All patients underwent a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation, which included the California Verbal Learning Test (CVLT), Phonetic Verbal Fluency Test (PMR), Semantic Verbal Fluency Test (category “animals”), Digit Span Forward and Backward from the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS-III), and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE).
Results
A total of 38 patients (52.7%) had silent multiple lacunar infarcts, with corona radiata as the most frequent topography (P < 0.023). White matter hyperintensities (leukoaraiosis) were observed in 81.1% of patients with silent multiple lacunar infarcts and in 50% with a single lacunar infarction (P < 0.007). Patients in both groups showed similar scores in the MMSE, but those with associated silent lacunar infarctions showed a poorer performance in the semantic fluency test (P < 0.008) and in short delayed verbal memory (P < 0.001). In both cases, however, leukoaraiosis was not statistically significant in multivariate linear regression models adjusted by confounding covariates. In these models, multiple silent lacunar infarctions and education were independent predictors of poor performance in the semantic fluency test and in short delayed verbal memory.
Conclusions
The presence of silent multiple lacunar infarctions documented on brain MRI scans in patients with first-ever lacunar stroke was associated with mild neuropsychological abnormalities, particularly in the performance of executive functions (semantic fluency) and short delayed verbal memory. According to these findings, in the initial stages of small vessel disease, mild neuropsychological abnormalities appear to be related to lacunes rather than to leukoaraiosis or perivascular hyperintensities of vascular cause.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-13-203
PMCID: PMC3866944  PMID: 24341857
California verbal learning test; Lacunar infarction; Neuropsychological abnormalities; MRI; Semantic fluency; Silent multiple lacunar infarctions; Vascular cognitive impairment
19.  Vasoreactivity and peri-infarct hyperintensities in stroke 
Neurology  2009;72(7):643-649.
Objective:
It is unknown if impaired cerebral vasoreactivity recovers after ischemic stroke, and whether it compromises perfusion in regions surrounding infarct and other vascular territories. We investigated the regional differences in CO2 vasoreactivity (CO2VR) and their relationships to peri-infarct T2 hyperintensities (PIHs), chronic infarct volumes, and clinical outcomes.
Methods:
We studied 39 subjects with chronic large middle cerebral artery territory infarcts and 48 matched controls. Anatomic and three-dimensional continuous arterial spin labeling imaging at 3-Tesla MRI were used to measure regional cerebral blood flow (CBF) and CO2VR during normocapnia, hypercapnia, and hypocapnia in main arteries distributions.
Results:
Stroke patients showed a significantly lower augmentation of blood flow at increased CO2 but greater reduction of blood flow with decreased CO2 than the control group. This altered vasoregulatory response was observed both ipsilateral and contralateral to the stroke. Lower CO2VR on the stroke side was associated with PIHs, greater infarct volume, and worse outcomes. The cases with PIHs (n = 27) had lower CBF during all conditions bilaterally (p < 0.0001) compared to cases with infarct only.
Conclusions:
Perfusion augmentation is inadequate in multiple vascular territories in patients with large artery ischemic infarcts, but vasoconstriction is preserved. Peri-infarct T2 hyperintensities are associated with lower blood flow. Strategies aimed to preserve vasoreactivity after an ischemic stroke should be tested for their effect on long-term outcomes.
GLOSSARY
= anterior cerebral artery;
= apparent diffusion coefficient;
= blood pressure;
= continuous arterial spin labeling;
= cerebral blood flow;
= CO2 vasoreactivity;
= diffusion-weighted image;
= fluid-attenuated inversion recovery;
= field of view;
= gray matter;
= low-density lipoprotein;
= middle cerebral artery;
= magnetization prepared rapid gradient echo;
= modified Rankin Scale;
= NIH Stroke Scale;
= posterior cerebral artery;
= peri-infarct T2 hyperintensities;
= echo time;
= inversion time;
= repetition time;
= white blood cell;
= white matter.
doi:10.1212/01.wnl.0000342473.65373.80
PMCID: PMC2677535  PMID: 19221298
20.  Depressive symptoms as a predictor of quality of life in cerebral small vessel disease, acting independently of disability; a study in both sporadic SVD and CADASIL 
Background
Cerebral small vessel disease (SVD) causes lacunar stroke, and more recently has been implicated as a cause of depression. Factors causing reduced quality of life (QoL) in SVD, including the relative contributions of disability and depressive symptoms, remain uncertain.
Hypothesis
Depressive symptoms are a major predictor of reduced QoL in SVD, acting independently of disability.
Methods
The Stroke-Specific QoL scale was completed by 100 patients with SVD (lacunar stroke with MRI lacunar infarct) and 55 controls. We repeated the protocol in 40 patients with the young onset genetic form of SVD, CADASIL, and 35 controls. Disability (modified Rankin Scale), [instrumental] activities of daily living (IADL, ADL), cognition (Mini Mental State Examination) and depressive symptoms (Geriatric Depression Scale, Montgomery-Åsberg Depression Rating Scale) were measured.
Results
QoL was significantly lower in SVD than controls: mean (SD), 196.8 (35.2) versus 226.8(15.3), p<.0001. Depressive symptoms were the major predictor of QoL, accounting for 52.9% of variance. The only other independent predictor of QoL was disability, accounting for an additional 18.4%. A similar pattern was found in CADASIL with reduced QoL (202.0(29.7) versus controls (228.6 (13.1); p<.0001), and depressive symptoms accounting for 42.2% of variance. Disability accounted for an additional 17.6%. Relationships between depression and QoL, and disability and QoL, were independent of one another.
Conclusions
Depressive symptoms, often unrecognized, are a major determinant of reduced QoL in SVD. They account for greater reduction than disability, and the association is independent of disability. This relationship may reflect the proposed causal association between white matter disease and depression. Treatment of depressive symptoms might significantly improve QoL in SVD.
doi:10.1111/j.1747-4949.2011.00763.x
PMCID: PMC3899573  PMID: 22364606
Small vessel disease; lacunar stroke; CADASIL; Quality of Life; Depression
21.  Young Women’s Stroke Etiology Differs from that in Young Men: an Analysis of 511 Patients 
Neurology International  2013;5(3):e12.
Women are known to have particular heterogeneity in stroke etiology related to childbearing and hormonal factors. Although there are continued acute stroke treatment advances focusing on clot dissolution or extraction, effective secondary prevention of stroke, however, is dependent on an accurate etiological determination of the stroke. Otherwise, more strokes are likely to follow. Analysis of young women’s stroke etiology in a large stroke registry incorporating contemporary neurovascular and parenchymal imaging and cardiac imaging. Young people (18-49 years old) with stroke were consecutively accrued over a 4 year period and an investigative protocol prospectively applied that incorporated multimodality magnetic resonance imaging, angiography, cardiac echo and stroke relevant blood investigations. All patients were classified according to an expanded Trial of Org 10172 in Acute Stroke Treatment – TOAST – classification and neurological deficit by the National Institute of Health stroke admission scores. In 511 registry derived, young stroke patients (mean age 39.8 years, 95% confidence interval: 39.1; 40.7 years), gender (women n=269, 53%) the etiological categories (women; men) included: i) small vessel disease (30/55;25/55), ii) cardioembolic (16/42;26/42), iii) large vessel cervical and intracranial disease (24/43;19/43), the other category (132/226; 91/226), which included, iv) substance abuse (15/41; 26/41, 4.6), v) prothrombotic states (22/37;15/37), vi) dissection (11/30;19/30), vii) cerebral venous thrombosis (15/19; 4/19, 12.4), viii) vasculitis (8/12; 4/12), ix) migraine related (10/11, 1/11) and x) miscellaneous vasculopathy (38/52;14/52). The latter entities comprised of aortic arch atheroma, vessel redundancy syndrome, vertebrobasilar hypoplasia, arterial fenestrations and dolichoectasia. Some conditions occurred solely in women, such as eclampsia (5), Call Fleming syndrome (4), fibromuscular dysplasia (3) and Moya Moya syndrome (2). Categories aside from bland infarction included: ii) intracerebral hemorrhage (43/106; 63/106) and xiii) stroke of undetermined etiology (6/10; 4/10). Admission mean National Institute of Health Stroke Scale scores differed significantly between women and men (4.7; 6.0 t=1.8, P=0.03). Young women’s stroke is significantly different from men in 7/12 stroke etiological categories in addition to 4 unique subtypes that require specific management.
doi:10.4081/ni.2013.e12
PMCID: PMC3794447  PMID: 24147209
stroke; young people; gender differences
22.  Induced hypertension for the treatment of acute MCA occlusion beyond the thrombolysis window: case report 
BMC Neurology  2006;6:46.
Background
A minority of stroke patients is eligible for thrombolytic therapy. Small pilot case series have hinted that elevation of incident arterial blood pressure might be associated with a favorable prognosis either in acute or subacute stroke. However, these patients were not considered for thrombolytic therapy and were not followed – up systematically. We used pharmacologically induced hypertension in a stroke patient with middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion ineligible for thrombolysis that was followed-up by radiological, clinical and functional outcome assessment.
Case presentation
A patient with acute embolic MCA occlusion producing a large, ischemic penumbra confirmed by perfusion CT was treated by induced hypertension with phenylephrine started within 4 h of admission. Increase in the mean arterial pressure by 20% led to a reduction of neurological deficit by 3 points on the National Institute of Stroke Scale. MRI and CT scans performed during phenylephrine infusion showed the presence of limited subcortical and cortical infarct changes that were clearly less extensive than the perfusion deficit in the brain perfusion CT at baseline, found in the absence of MCA patency. No complications due to induced hypertension therapy occurred. Moderate functional improvement up to modified Rankin scale 2 at follow up took place.
Conclusion
Induced hypertension in acute ischemic stroke seems clinically feasible and may be beneficial in selected normo- or hypotensive stroke patients not eligible for thrombolytic recanalization therapy.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-6-46
PMCID: PMC1764429  PMID: 17177982
23.  A biochemical marker panel in MRI-proven hyperacute ischemic stroke-a prospective study 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:14.
Background
Computer tomography (CT) is still the fastest and most robust technique to rule out ICH in acute stroke. However CT-sensitivity for detection of ischemic stroke in the hyperacute phase is still relatively low. Moreover the validity of pure clinical judgment is diminished by several stroke imitating diseases (mimics). The "Triage® Stroke Panel", a biochemical multimarker assay, detects Brain Natriuretic Peptide (BNP), D-Dimers (DD), Matrix-Metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), and S100B protein and promptly generates a Multimarkerindex of these values (MMX). This index has been licensed for diagnostic purposes as it might increase the validity of the clinical diagnosis to differentiate between stroke imitating diseases and true ischemic strokes. Our aim was to prove whether the panel is a reliable indicating device for the diagnosis of ischemic stroke in a time window of 6 h to fasten the pre- and intrahospital pathway to fibrinolysis.
Methods
We investigated all consecutive patients admitted to our stroke unit during a time period of 5 months. Only patients with clinical investigation, blood sample collection and MRI within six hours from symptom onset were included. Values of biochemical markers were analyzed according to the results of diffusion weighted MR-imaging. In addition MMX-values in ischemic strokes were correlated with the TOAST-criteria. For statistical analysis the SAS Analyst software was used. Correlation coefficients were analyzed and comparison tests for two or more groups were performed. Statistical significance was assumed in case of p < 0.05. Finally a ROC-analysis was performed for the MMX-Index.
Results
In total 174 patients were included into this study (n = 100 strokes, n = 49 mimics, n = 25 transitoric ischemic attacks). In patients with ischemic strokes the mean NIHSS was 7.6 ± 6.2, while the mean DWI-lesion volume was 20.6 ml (range 186.9 to 4.2 ml). According to the MMX or the individual markers there was no statistically significant difference between the group of ischemic strokes and the group of mimics. Moreover the correlation of the index and the DWI-lesion-volume was poor (p = 0.2).
Conclusions
In our setting of acute MRI-proven ischemic stroke the used multimarker-assay (Triage® Stroke Panel) was not of diagnostic validity. We do not recommend to perform this assay as this might lead to a unjustified time delay.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-14
PMCID: PMC3380723  PMID: 22400994
Stroke; Biochemical marker; Brain natriuretic peptide; D-dimers; Matrix-metalloproteinase-9
24.  How Much Would Performing Diffusion-Weighted Imaging for All Transient Ischemic Attacks Increase MRI Utilization? 
Objectives
The American Heart Association recently redefined transient ischemic attack (TIA) to exclude patients with infarction on neuroimaging. Given its advantages, MRI/DWI was recommended as the preferred imaging modality. We determined how frequently MRI/DWI was performed for TIA and ascertained the proportion of clinically-defined TIA patients who had ischemic lesions on DWI in our community in 2005.
Methods
All clinically-defined TIA cases among residents of a five-county region around Cincinnati who presented to emergency departments were identified during 2005. Demographics and medical history, whether MRI/DWI was done, and DWI findings were recorded. Generalized estimating equations were used to compare groups in order to account for the design of the study and multiple events per patient.
Results
Of 834 TIA events in 799 patients, 323 events (40%) had MRI/DWI performed. Patients who had MRI/DWI were younger (mean 66 vs. 70yrs, p=0.03), had less severe pre-stroke disability (baseline modified Rankin Scale zero, 44% vs. 34%, p=0.02), were less likely to have prior stroke or TIA (42% vs 56%, p=0.002), and were less likely to have atrial fibrillation (10% vs. 16%, p=0.01). Of the 323 events with DWI, 51 (15%) had evidence of acute infarction. Patients with positive DWI were older (75 vs. 64yrs, p=0.0001) and more likely to have atrial fibrillation (21% vs. 7%, p=0.002).
Conclusion
Performing MRI/DWI on all clinically-defined TIA patients in our community would reveal more cases of actual infarction, but would more than double current use. Future studies should assess whether MRI/DWI is warranted for all TIA patients.
doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.110.592675
PMCID: PMC2952926  PMID: 20798366
TIA; MRI; Imaging
25.  Diagnosis and Rehabilitation of Visual Field Defects in Stroke Patients: A Retrospective Audit 
Objective
Visual field defects (VFD) after stroke can cause significant disability and reduction in quality of life. Adequate diagnosis of VFD and referral to visual rehabilitation are important to improve outcome. Our aim was to conduct a retrospective clinical audit to investigate how neurologists detect and follow up VFD in stroke patients in a university hospital in Norway.
Methods
All patients registered in the Bergen NORSTROKE Registry from February 2006 to May 2009 with (1) occipital lobe infarctions and (2) non-occipital infarction and clinically detected VFD were included in the study. Their medical records were reviewed for referral to perimetry for examination of VFD and for referral to a visual rehabilitation program within the first year after brain injury.
Results
Of 353 patients, 34 (9.6%) were referred to perimetry and 8 (2.3%) to visual rehabilitation. Patients referred to perimetry were younger (65.1 vs. 74.7 years, p < 0.001), had lower modified Rankin Scale scores (2.53 vs. 3.47, p = 0.003), and scored lower on the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale upon admission (6.68 vs. 13.90, p < 0.001). Men were more often referred to perimetry than women (73.5 vs. 26.5%, p < 0.001), and those referred were younger (61.2 vs. 75.8 years, p = 0.03).
Conclusions
Only few patients were referred to perimetry, and even fewer were offered visual rehabilitation. Age and gender were negative predictors for referral. Neurologists’ awareness of the significant disability related to VFD must be increased. Focused diagnostics on visual impairment and early referral to a visual rehabilitation program should be mandatory in stroke unit services.
doi:10.1159/000337016
PMCID: PMC3468812  PMID: 23060894
Brain injury; Disability; Visual field defect; Visual rehabilitation

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