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1.  The Cog-4 Subset of the National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale as a Measure of Cognition: Relationship with Baseline Factors and Functional Outcome after Stroke Using Data from the Virtual International Stroke Trials Archive 
Stroke Research and Treatment  2013;2013:562506.
Background. Assessing poststroke cognitive impairment is complex. A subscale of the NIHSS, the Cog-4, has been proposed as a quick test of “cognitive impairment.” but a study of its properties in a larger dataset is lacking. Methods. Data from 9,147 patients with acute stroke from the VISTA archive was used to generate Cog-4 scores. The statistical properties of Cog-4, its relationship with baseline clinical characteristics, and other functional outcome measures at day 90 were assessed. Results. Mean age of patients was 69.2 years and 45.8%, were females. Day-90 Cog-4 was highly positively skewed (skewness 0.926). Patients with left hemispheric stroke had higher day-90 Cog-4 score (P < 0.001). Age, stroke severity, and previous stroke were significant predictors of Cog-4. Cog-4 was significantly correlated with dependency (modified Rankin Scale, rs = 0.512), and disability (Barthel Index, rs = −0.493). Conclusions. The Cog-4 scale at day 90 cannot be considered a useful test of cognition since it only superficially measures cognition. It is heavily dependent on the side of stroke, is inevitably associated with functional outcome (being a subset of the NIHSS), and suffers from a profound “floor” effect. Specific and validated measures are more appropriate for the assessment of poststroke cognition than Cog-4.
PMCID: PMC3622404  PMID: 23589782
2.  Determining the Feasibility of Ambulance-Based Randomised Controlled Trials in Patients with Ultra-Acute Stroke: Study Protocol for the “Rapid Intervention with GTN in Hypertensive Stroke Trial” (RIGHT, ISRCTN66434824) 
Stroke Research and Treatment  2012;2012:385753.
Background. Time from acute stroke to enrolment in clinical trials needs to be reduced to improve the chances of finding effective treatments. No completed randomised controlled trials of ambulance-based treatment for acute stroke have been reported in the UK, and the practicalities of recruiting, consenting, and treating patients are unknown. Methods. RIGHT is an ambulance based, single-blind, randomised controlled trial with blinded-outcome assessment. The trial will assess feasibility of using ambulance services to deliver ultra-acute stroke treatments; a secondary aim is to assess the effect of glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) on haemodynamic variables and functional outcomes. Initial consent, randomisation, and treatment are performed by paramedics prior to hospitalisation. Patients with ultra-acute stroke (≤4 hours of onset) are randomised to transdermal GTN (5 mg/24 hours) or gauze dressing daily for 7 days. The primary outcome is systolic blood pressure at 2 hours. Secondary outcomes include feasibility, haemodynamics, dependency, and other functional outcomes. A nested qualitative study is included. Trial Status. The trial has all relevant ethics and regulatory approvals and recruitment started on February 15, 2010. The trial stopped recruitment in December 2011 after 41 patients were recruited. Trial Registration. The trial registration number is ISRCTN66434824 and EudraCT number is 2007-004766-40.
PMCID: PMC3480012  PMID: 23125943
3.  Statistical analysis plan for the ‘Triple Antiplatelets for Reducing Dependency after Ischaemic Stroke’ (TARDIS) trial 
International Journal of Stroke  2014;10(3):449-451.
Antiplatelet agents such as aspirin, clopidogrel and dipyridamole are effective in reducing the risk of recurrence after a stroke. Importantly, the risk of recurrence is highest immediately after the index event while antiplatelets cause bleeding.
Aims and/or hypothesis
The ‘Triple Antiplatelets for Reducing Dependency after Ischaemic Stroke’ (TARDIS) trial is testing whether short-term intensive antiplatelet therapy is safe and effective in reducing the early risk of recurrence as compared with standard guideline-based therapy.
TARDIS is an international multi-center prospective randomized open-label blinded–end-point trial, with funding from the UK Health Technology Assessment program. Patients with acute ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack are randomized within 48 h to intensive/triple antiplatelet therapy or guideline antiplatelets taken for one-month. Patients or relatives give written informed (proxy) consent and all sites have research ethics approval. Analyses will be done by intention-to-treat.
Study Outcome
The primary outcome is shift in stroke recurrent events and their severity, assessed using the modified Rankin Scale, at three-months.
This paper and attachment describe the trial's statistical analysis plan, as developed from the protocol during recruitment and prior to unblinding of data. The statistical analysis plan contains design and methods for analyses, and unpopulated tables and figures for the primary and baseline publications. The data from the trial will provide the first large-scale randomized evidence for the use of intensive antiplatelet therapy for preventing recurrence after acute stroke and transient ischemic attack.
PMCID: PMC4409839  PMID: 25640807
acute ischemic stroke; acute TIA; aspirin; bleeding; clopidogrel; dipyridamole; recurrence; statistical analysis plan; randomized controlled trial
4.  Statistical analysis plan for the ‘Efficacy of Nitric Oxide in Stroke’ (ENOS) trial 
International Journal of Stroke  2014;9(3):372-374.
High blood pressure is common during the acute phase of stroke and is associated with a poor outcome. However, the management of high blood pressure remains unclear. The ‘Efficacy of Nitric Oxide in Stroke’ trial tested whether transdermal glyceryl trinitrate, a nitric oxide donor that lowers blood pressure, is safe and effective in improving outcome after acute stroke. Efficacy of Nitric Oxide in Stroke is an international multicenter, prospective, randomized, single-blind, blinded endpoint trial, with funding from the UK Medical Research Council. Patients with acute ischemic stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage and systolic blood pressure 140–220 mmHg were randomized to glyceryl trinitrate or no glyceryl trinitrate and, where relevant, to continue or stop prestroke antihypertensive therapy. The primary outcome is shift in modified Rankin Scale at three-months. Patients or relatives gave written informed (proxy) consent, and all sites had research ethics approval. Analyses will be done by intention to treat. This paper and attachment describe the trial's statistical analysis plan, developed prior to unblinding of date. The statistical analysis plan contains design and methods for analyses, and unpopulated tables and figures for the two primary publications and some secondary publications. The database will be locked in late February 2014 in preparation for presentation of the results in May 2014. The data from the trial will improve the precision of the estimates of the overall treatment effects (efficacy and safety) of results from completed trials of blood pressure management in acute stroke, and provide the first large-scale randomized evidence on transdermal glyceryl trinitrate, and of continuing (vs. stopping) prestroke antihypertensive medications, in acute stroke.
PMCID: PMC4235425  PMID: 24588789
acute stroke trial; blood pressure; glyceryl trinitrate; intracerebral hemorrhage; ischemic stroke; statistical analysis plan
5.  Progesterone treatment for experimental stroke: an individual animal meta-analysis 
Preclinical studies suggest progesterone is neuroprotective after cerebral ischemia. The gold standard for assessing intervention effects across studies within and between subgroups is to use meta-analysis based on individual animal data (IAD). Preclinical studies of progesterone in experimental stroke were identified from searches of electronic databases and reference lists. Corresponding authors of papers of interest were contacted to obtain IAD and, if unavailable, summary data were obtained from the publication. Data are given as standardized mean differences (SMDs, continuous data) or odds ratios (binary data), with 95% confidence intervals (95% CIs). In an unadjusted analysis of IAD and summary data, progesterone reduced standardized lesion volume (SMD −0.766, 95% CI −1.173 to −0.358, P<0.001). Publication bias was apparent on visual inspection of a Begg's funnel plot on lesion volume and statistically using Egger's test (P=0.001). Using individual animal data alone, progesterone was associated with an increase in death in adjusted analysis (odds ratio 2.64, 95% CI 1.17 to 5.97, P=0.020). Although progesterone significantly reduced lesion volume, it also appeared to increase the incidence of death after experimental stroke, particularly in young ovariectomized female animals. Experimental studies must report the effect of interactions on death and on modifiers, such as age and sex.
PMCID: PMC3764382  PMID: 23838830
individual animal data; meta-analysis; neuroprotection; progesterone; steroid hormones; systematic review
6.  Publication Bias in Reports of Animal Stroke Studies Leads to Major Overstatement of Efficacy 
PLoS Biology  2010;8(3):e1000344.
Publication bias confounds attempts to use systematic reviews to assess the efficacy of various interventions tested in experiments modelling acute ischaemic stroke, leading to a 30% overstatement of efficacy of interventions tested in animals.
The consolidation of scientific knowledge proceeds through the interpretation and then distillation of data presented in research reports, first in review articles and then in textbooks and undergraduate courses, until truths become accepted as such both amongst “experts” and in the public understanding. Where data are collected but remain unpublished, they cannot contribute to this distillation of knowledge. If these unpublished data differ substantially from published work, conclusions may not reflect adequately the underlying biological effects being described. The existence and any impact of such “publication bias” in the laboratory sciences have not been described. Using the CAMARADES (Collaborative Approach to Meta-analysis and Review of Animal Data in Experimental Studies) database we identified 16 systematic reviews of interventions tested in animal studies of acute ischaemic stroke involving 525 unique publications. Only ten publications (2%) reported no significant effects on infarct volume and only six (1.2%) did not report at least one significant finding. Egger regression and trim-and-fill analysis suggested that publication bias was highly prevalent (present in the literature for 16 and ten interventions, respectively) in animal studies modelling stroke. Trim-and-fill analysis suggested that publication bias might account for around one-third of the efficacy reported in systematic reviews, with reported efficacy falling from 31.3% to 23.8% after adjustment for publication bias. We estimate that a further 214 experiments (in addition to the 1,359 identified through rigorous systematic review; non publication rate 14%) have been conducted but not reported. It is probable that publication bias has an important impact in other animal disease models, and more broadly in the life sciences.
Author Summary
Publication bias is known to be a major problem in the reporting of clinical trials, but its impact in basic research has not previously been quantified. Here we show that publication bias is prevalent in reports of laboratory-based research in animal models of stroke, such that data from as many as one in seven experiments remain unpublished. The result of this bias is that systematic reviews of the published results of interventions in animal models of stroke overstate their efficacy by around one third. Nonpublication of data raises ethical concerns, first because the animals used have not contributed to the sum of human knowledge, and second because participants in clinical trials may be put at unnecessary risk if efficacy in animals has been overstated. It is unlikely that this publication bias in the basic sciences is restricted to the area we have studied, the preclinical modelling of the efficacy of candidate drugs for stroke. A related article in PLoS Medicine (van der Worp et al., doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000245) discusses the controversies and possibilities of translating the results of animal experiments into human clinical trials.
PMCID: PMC2846857  PMID: 20361022
7.  A Randomised Controlled Trial of Triple Antiplatelet Therapy (Aspirin, Clopidogrel and Dipyridamole) in the Secondary Prevention of Stroke: Safety, Tolerability and Feasibility 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(8):e2852.
Aspirin, dipyridamole and clopidogrel are effective in secondary vascular prevention. Combination therapy with three antiplatelet agents might maximise the benefit of antiplatelet treatment in the secondary prevention of ischaemic stroke.
Methodology/Principal Findings
A randomised, parallel group, observer-blinded phase II trial compared the combination of aspirin, clopidogrel and dipyridamole with aspirin alone. Adult patients with ischaemic stroke or transient ischaemic attack (TIA) within 5 years were included. The primary outcome was tolerability to treatment assessed as the number of patients completing randomised treatment. Recruitment was halted prematurely after publication of the ESPRIT trial (which confirmed that combined aspirin and dipyridamole is more effective than aspirin alone). 17 patients were enrolled: male 12 (71%), mean age 62 (SD 13) years, lacunar stroke syndrome 12 (71%), median stroke/TIA onset to randomisation 8 months. Treatment was discontinued in 4 of 9 (44%) patients receiving triple therapy vs. none of 8 taking aspirin (p = 0.08). One recurrent stroke occurred in a patient in the triple group who was noncompliant of all antiplatelet medications. The number of patients with adverse events and bleeding complications, and their severity, were significantly greater in the triple therapy group (p<0.01).
Long term triple antiplatelet therapy was asociated with a significant increase in adverse events and bleeding rates, and their severity, and a trend to increased discontinuations. However, the patients had a low risk of recurrence and future trials should focus on short term therapy in high risk patients characterised by a very recent event or failure of dual antiplatelet therapy.
Trial Registration ISRCTN83673558
PMCID: PMC2481397  PMID: 18682741
8.  Association between hormone replacement therapy and subsequent arterial and venous vascular events: a meta-analysis 
European Heart Journal  2008;29(16):2031-2041.
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have shown that the risk of stroke and venous thromboembolism (VTE) is increased with hormone replacement therapy (HRT); the effect on coronary heart disease (CHD) remains unclear.
Methods and results
RCTs of HRT were identified. Event rates for cerebrovascular disease [stroke, TIA (transient ischaemic attack)], CHD (myocardial infarction, unstable angina, sudden cardiac death), and VTE (pulmonary embolism, deep vein thrombosis) were analysed. Sensitivity analyses were performed by type of HRT (mono vs. dual) and subject age. 31 trials (44 113 subjects) were identified. HRT was associated with increases in stroke (odds ratio, OR, 1.32, 95% confidence intervals, CI, 1.14–1.53) and VTE (OR 2.05, 95% CI 1.44–2.92). In contrast, CHD events were not increased (OR 1.02, 95% CI 0.90–1.11). Ordinal analyses confirmed that stroke severity was increased with HRT (OR 1.31, 95% CI 1.12–1.54). Although most trials included older subjects, age did not significantly affect risk. The addition of progesterone to oestrogen doubled the risk of VTE.
HRT is associated with an increased risk of stroke, stroke severity, and VTE, but not of CHD events. Although most trials studied older patients, increased risk was not related to age. Combined HRT increases the risk of VTE compared with oestrogen monotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2515884  PMID: 18599555
Hormone replacement therapy; Myocardial infarction; Randomized controlled trial; Stroke; Venous thromboembolism
9.  Association between hormone replacement therapy and subsequent stroke: a meta-analysis 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2005;330(7487):342.
Objectives To review completed trials assessing effect of hormone replacement therapy on subsequent risk of stroke, assessing stroke by pathological type, severity, and outcome.
Design Systematic review of randomised controlled trials identified from the Cochrane Library, Embase, and Medline; reviews; and reference lists of relevant papers.
Studies reviewed 28 trials, with 39 769 subjects, were identified.
Review measures Rates for cerebrovascular events analysed with a random effects model. Sensitivity analyses for heterogeneity included phase of prevention (primary or secondary), type of hormone replacement therapy (oestrogen alone or combined with progesterone), type of oestrogen (estradiol or conjugated equine oestrogen), size of trial (< 5000 or > 5000 patients), length of follow up (£ 3 years or > 3 years), sex (women only or men only), and trial quality (high or low).
Results Hormone replacement therapy was associated with significant increases in total stroke (odds ratio 1.29 (95% confidence interval 1.13 to 1.47), n = 28), non-fatal stroke (1.23 (1.06 to 1.44), n = 21), stroke leading to death or disability (1.56 (1.11 to 2.20), n = 14), ischaemic stroke (1.29 (1.06 to 1.56), n = 16), and a trend to more fatal stroke (1.28 (0.87 to 1.88), n = 22). It was not associated with haemorrhagic stroke (1.07 (0.65 to 1.75), n = 17) or transient ischaemic attack (1.02 (0.78 to 1.34), n = 22). Statistical heterogeneity was not present in any analysis.
Conclusions Hormone replacement therapy was associated with an increased risk of stroke, particularly of ischaemic type. Among subjects who had a stroke, those taking hormone replacement therapy seemed to have a worse outcome. Hormone replacement therapy cannot be recommended for the primary or secondary prevention of stroke.
PMCID: PMC548730  PMID: 15640250
11.  Acute stroke 
Western Journal of Medicine  2000;173(3):209-212.
PMCID: PMC1071073  PMID: 10986195
13.  Acute stroke 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  2000;320(7239):920-923.
PMCID: PMC1117840  PMID: 10742005

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