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1.  Investigation of changes in body composition, metabolic profile and skeletal muscle functional capacity in ischemic stroke patients: the rationale and design of the Body Size in Stroke Study (BoSSS) 
Background
Stroke is steadily increasing in prevalence. Muscle tissue wasting and functional changes are frequently observed in stroke, but this has not been studied in detail yet. There is a lack of data to support guideline recommendations on how to target muscle wasting in stroke patients. We hypothesise that pathophysiological metabolic profiles and muscle functional and structural impairment are developing in stroke patients, which are associated with stroke severity and outcome after stroke.
Methods
The Body Size in Stroke Study (BoSSS) is a prospective, longitudinal observation study that will explore associations between the metabolic profile, body tissue wasting and particular metabolic and functional changes in skeletal muscle tissue in stroke patients. Consecutive patients with acute stroke (n = 150) will be enrolled due to lacunar or territorial ischemic infarct in the area of the middle cerebral artery. Patients will be studied at annual intervals after 12 and 24 months. For comparison, healthy controls of similar age and patients with chronic heart failure will be used as control groups. The main objective is to study changes in body composition in stroke patients. Secondary, the study will focus on changes in insulin sensitivity of adipose tissue and skeletal muscle. Furthermore, measurements of endothelial function and peripheral blood flow will provide insight in the vascular regulation in stroke patients.
Conclusion
This study will be the largest observational study providing insights into the metabolic and functional changes of muscle tissue in patients with acute ischemic stroke. The new data will increase our understanding of the pathophysiologic tissue wasting in stroke disease and help to develop new therapeutic strategies.
doi:10.1007/s13539-013-0103-0
PMCID: PMC3774919  PMID: 23483531
Body composition; Metabolic profile; Skeletal muscle; Wasting; Sarcopenia; Skeletal muscle functional capacity; Ischemic stroke patients
2.  Prevalence dependent calibration of a predictive model for nasal carriage of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:111.
Background
Published models predicting nasal colonization with Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus among hospital admissions predominantly focus on separation of carriers from non-carriers and are frequently evaluated using measures of discrimination. In contrast, accurate estimation of carriage probability, which may inform decisions regarding treatment and infection control, is rarely assessed. Furthermore, no published models adjust for MRSA prevalence.
Methods
Using logistic regression, a scoring system (values from 0 to 200) predicting nasal carriage of MRSA was created using a derivation cohort of 3091 individuals admitted to a European tertiary referral center between July 2007 and March 2008. The expected positive predictive value of a rapid diagnostic test (GeneOhm, Becton & Dickinson Co.) was modeled using non-linear regression according to score. Models were validated on a second cohort from the same hospital consisting of 2043 patients admitted between August 2008 and January 2012. Our suggested correction score for prevalence was proportional to the log-transformed odds ratio between cohorts. Calibration before and after correction, i.e. accurate classification into arbitrary strata, was assessed with the Hosmer-Lemeshow-Test.
Results
Treating culture as reference, the rapid diagnostic test had positive predictive values of 64.8% and 54.0% in derivation and internal validation corhorts with prevalences of 2.3% and 1.7%, respectively. In addition to low prevalence, low positive predictive values were due to high proportion (> 66%) of mecA-negative Staphylococcus aureus among false positive results. Age, nursing home residence, admission through the medical emergency department, and ICD-10-GM admission diagnoses starting with “A” or “J” were associated with MRSA carriage and were thus included in the scoring system, which showed good calibration in predicting probability of carriage and the rapid diagnostic test’s expected positive predictive value. Calibration for both probability of carriage and expected positive predictive value in the internal validation cohort was improved by applying the correction score.
Conclusions
Given a set of patient parameters, the presented models accurately predict a) probability of nasal carriage of MRSA and b) a rapid diagnostic test’s expected positive predictive value. While the former can inform decisions regarding empiric antibiotic treatment and infection control, the latter can influence choice of screening method.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-111
PMCID: PMC3599956  PMID: 23448529
Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus; Infection control; Clinical prediction rule; Predictive value of tests; False positive reactions; Calibration
3.  Secondary Prevention after Minor Stroke and TIA - Usual Care and Development of a Support Program 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e49985.
Background
Effective methods of secondary prevention after stroke or TIA are available but adherence to recommended evidence-based treatments is often poor. The study aimed to determine the quality of secondary prevention in usual care and to develop a stepwise modeled support program.
Methods
Two consecutive cohorts of patients with acute minor stroke or TIA undergoing usual outpatient care versus a secondary prevention program were compared. Risk factor control and medication adherence were assessed in 6-month follow-ups (6M-FU). Usual care consisted of detailed information concerning vascular risk factor targets given at discharge and regular outpatient care by primary care physicians. The stepwise modeled support program additionally employed up to four outpatient appointments. A combination of educational and behavioral strategies was employed.
Results
168 patients in the observational cohort who stated their openness to participate in a prevention program (mean age 64.7 y, admission blood pressure (BP): 155/84 mmHg) and 173 patients participating in the support program (mean age 67.6 y, BP: 161/84 mmHg) were assessed at 6 months. Proportions of patients with BP according to guidelines were 50% in usual-care and 77% in the support program (p<0.01). LDL<100 mg/dl was measured in 62 versus 71% (p = 0.12). Proportions of patients who stopped smoking were 50 versus 79% (p<0.01). 72 versus 89% of patients with atrial fibrillation were on oral anticoagulation (p = 0.09).
Conclusions
Risk factor control remains unsatisfactory in usual care. Targets of secondary prevention were met more often within the supported cohort. Effects on (cerebro-)vascular recurrence rates are going to be assessed in a multicenter randomized trial.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049985
PMCID: PMC3524242  PMID: 23284630
4.  DEcompressive Surgery for the Treatment of malignant INfarction of the middle cerebral arterY - Registry (DESTINY-R): design and protocols 
BMC Neurology  2012;12:115.
Background
Randomized controlled trials (RCT) on the treatment of severe space-occupying infarction of the middle cerebral artery (malignant MCA infarction) showed that early decompressive hemicraniectomy (DHC) is life saving and improves outcome without promoting most severe disablity in patients aged 18–60 years. It is, however, unknown whether the results obtained in the randomized trials are reproducible in a broader population in and apart from an academical setting and whether hemicraniectomy has been implemented in clinical practice as recommended by national and international guidelines. In addition, they were not powered to answer further relevant questions, e.g. concerning the selection of patients eligible for and the timing of hemicraniectomy. Other important issues such as the acceptance of disability following hemicraniectomy, the existence of specific prognostic factors, the value of conservative therapeutic measures, and the overall complication rate related to hemicraniectomy have not been sufficiently studied yet.
Methods/Design
DESTINY-R is a prospective, multicenter, open, controlled registry including a 12 months follow-up. The only inclusion criteria is unilateral ischemic MCA stroke affecting more than 50% of the MCA-territory. The primary study hypothesis is to confirm the results of the RCT (76% mRS ≤ 4 after 12 months) in the subgroup of patients additionally fulfilling the inclusion cirteria of the RCT in daily routine. Assuming a calculated proportion of 0.76 for successes and a sample size of 300 for this subgroup, the width of the 95% CI, calculated using Wilson's method, will be 0.096 with the lower bound 0.709 and the upper bound 0.805.
Discussion
The results of this study will provide information about the effectiveness of DHC in malignant MCA infarction in a broad population and a real-life situation in addition to and beyond RCT. Further prospectively obtained data will give crucial information on open questions and will be helpful in the plannig of upcomming treatment studies.
Trial registration
(ICTRP and DRKS): DRKS00000624
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-12-115
PMCID: PMC3517444  PMID: 23031451
Decompressive surgery; Hemicraniectomy; Ischaemic stroke; Malignant MCA infarct; Registry
5.  Troponin elevation in acute ischemic stroke (TRELAS) - protocol of a prospective observational trial 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:98.
Background
Levels of the cardiac muscle regulatory protein troponin T (cTnT) are frequently elevated in patients with acute ischemic stroke and elevated cTnT predicts poor outcome and mortality. The pathomechanism of troponin release may relate to co-morbid coronary artery disease and myocardial ischemia or, alternatively, to neurogenic cardiac damage due to autonomic activation after acute ischemic stroke. Therefore, there is uncertainty about how acute ischemic stroke patients with increased cTnT levels should be managed regarding diagnostic and therapeutic workup.
Methods/Design
The primary objective of the prospective observational trial TRELAS (TRoponin ELevation in Acute ischemic Stroke) is to investigate the frequency and underlying pathomechanism of cTnT elevation in acute ischemic stroke patients in order to give guidance for clinical practice. All consecutive patients with acute ischemic stroke admitted within 72 hours after symptom onset to the Department of Neurology at the Campus Benjamin Franklin of the University Hospital Charité will be screened for cTnT elevations (i.e. >= 0.05 μg/l) on admission and again on the following day. Patients with increased cTnT will undergo coronary angiography within 72 hours. Diagnostic findings of coronary angiograms will be compared with age- and gender-matched patients presenting with Non-ST-Elevation myocardial infarction to the Department of Cardiology. The primary endpoint of the study will be the occurrence of culprit lesions in the coronary angiogram indicating underlying co-morbid obstructive coronary artery disease. Secondary endpoints will be the localization of stroke in the cerebral imaging and left ventriculographic findings of wall motion abnormalities suggestive of stroke-induced global cardiac dysfunction.
Discussion
TRELAS will prospectively determine the frequency and possible etiology of troponin elevation in a large cohort of ischemic stroke patients. The findings are expected to contribute to clarify pathophysiologic concepts of co-morbid cardiac damage in ischemic stroke patients and also to provide a basis for clinical recommendations for cardiac workup of such patients.
Trial registration
clinicaltrials.gov NCT01263964
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-98
PMCID: PMC3166899  PMID: 21824425
6.  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
7.  Heart rate monitoring on the stroke unit. What does heart beat tell about prognosis? An observational study 
BMC Neurology  2011;11:47.
Background
Guidelines recommend maintaining the heart rate (HR) of acute stroke patients within physiological limits; data on the frequency and predictors of significant deviations from these limits are scarce.
Methods
Demographical data, stroke risk factors, NIH stroke scale score, lesion size and location, and ECG parameters were prospectively assessed in 256 patients with ischemic stroke. Patients were continuously monitored for at least 24 hours on a certified stroke unit. Tachycardia (HR ≥120 bpm) and bradycardia (HR <45 bpm) and cardiac rhythm (sinus rhythm or atrial fibrillation) were documented. We investigated the influence of risk factors on HR disturbances and their respective influence on dependence (modified Rankin Scale ≥ 3 after three months) and mortality.
Results
HR ≥120 bpm occurred in 39 patients (15%). Stroke severity (larger lesion size/higher NIHSS-score on admission), atrial fibrillation and HR on admission predicted its occurrence. HR <45 bpm occurred in 12 patients (5%) and was predicted by lower HR on admission. Neither HR ≥120 nor HR <45 bpm independently predicted poor outcome at three moths. Stroke location had no effect on the occurrence of HR violations. Clinical severity and age remained the only consistent predictors of poor outcome.
Conclusions
Significant tachycardia and bradycardia are frequent phenomena in acute stroke; however they do not independently predict clinical course or outcome. Continuous monitoring allows detecting rhythm disturbances in stroke patients and allows deciding whether urgent medical treatment is necessary.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-11-47
PMCID: PMC3096901  PMID: 21524295
8.  Stroke risk associated with balloon based catheter ablation for atrial fibrillation: Rationale and design of the MACPAF Study 
BMC Neurology  2010;10:63.
Background
Catheter ablation of the pulmonary veins has become accepted as a standard therapeutic approach for symptomatic paroxysmal atrial fibrillation (AF). However, there is some evidence for an ablation associated (silent) stroke risk, lowering the hope to limit the stroke risk by restoration of rhythm over rate control in AF. The purpose of the prospective randomized single-center study "Mesh Ablator versus Cryoballoon Pulmonary Vein Ablation of Symptomatic Paroxysmal Atrial Fibrillation" (MACPAF) is to compare the efficacy and safety of two balloon based pulmonary vein ablation systems in patients with symptomatic paroxysmal AF.
Methods/Design
Patients are randomized 1:1 for the Arctic Front® or the HD Mesh Ablator® catheter for left atrial catheter ablation (LACA). The predefined endpoints will be assessed by brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), neuro(psycho)logical tests and a subcutaneously implanted reveal recorder for AF detection. According to statistics 108 patients will be enrolled.
Discussion
Findings from the MACPAF trial will help to balance the benefits and risks of LACA for symptomatic paroxysmal AF. Using serial brain MRIs might help to identify patients at risk for LACA-associated cerebral thromboembolism. Potential limitations of the study are the single-center design, the existence of a variety of LACA-catheters, the missing placebo-group and the impossibility to assess the primary endpoint in a blinded fashion.
Trial registration
clinicaltrials.gov NCT01061931
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-10-63
PMCID: PMC2919504  PMID: 20663131
9.  Stroke risk perception among participants of a stroke awareness campaign 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:39.
Background
Subjective risk factor perception is an important component of the motivation to change unhealthy life styles. While prior studies assessed cardiovascular risk factor knowledge, little is known about determinants of the individual perception of stroke risk.
Methods
Survey by mailed questionnaire among 1483 participants of a prior public stroke campaign in Germany. Participants had been informed about their individual stroke risk based on the Framingham stroke risk score. Stroke risk factor knowledge, perception of lifetime stroke risk and risk factor status were included in the questionnaire, and the determinants of good risk factor knowledge and high stroke risk perception were identified using logistic regression models.
Results
Overall stroke risk factor knowledge was good with 67–96% of the participants recognizing established risk factors. The two exceptions were diabetes (recognized by 49%) and myocardial infarction (57%). Knowledge of a specific factor was superior among those affected by it. 13% of all participants considered themselves of having a high stroke risk, 55% indicated a moderate risk. All major risk factors contributed significantly to the perception of being at high stroke risk, but the effects of age, sex and education were non-significant. Poor self-rated health was additionally associated with high individual stroke risk perception.
Conclusion
Stroke risk factor knowledge was high in this study. The self perception of an increased stroke risk was associated with established risk factors as well as low perception of general health.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-39
PMCID: PMC1838904  PMID: 17371603
10.  Rate of cardiac arrhythmias and silent brain lesions in experienced marathon runners: rationale, design and baseline data of the Berlin Beat of Running study 
Background
Regular exercise is beneficial for cardiovascular health but a recent meta-analysis indicated a relationship between extensive endurance sport and a higher risk of atrial fibrillation, an independent risk factor for stroke. However, data on the frequency of cardiac arrhythmias or (clinically silent) brain lesions during and after marathon running are missing.
Methods/ Design
In the prospective observational “Berlin Beat of Running” study experienced endurance athletes underwent clinical examination (CE), 3 Tesla brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), carotid ultrasound imaging (CUI) and serial blood sampling (BS) within 2-3 days prior (CE, MRI, CUI, BS), directly after (CE, BS) and within 2 days after (CE, MRI, BS) the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON 2011. All participants wore a portable electrocardiogram (ECG)-recorder throughout the 4 to 5 days baseline study period. Participants with pathological MRI findings after the marathon, troponin elevations or detected cardiac arrhythmias will be asked to undergo cardiac MRI to rule out structural abnormalities. A follow-up is scheduled after one year.
Results
Here we report the baseline data of the enrolled 110 athletes aged 36-61 years. Their mean age was 48.8 ± 6.0 years, 24.5% were female, 8.2% had hypertension and 2.7% had hyperlipidaemia. Participants have attended a mean of 7.5 ± 6.6 marathon races within the last 5 years and a mean of 16 ± 36 marathon races in total. Their weekly running distance prior to the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON was 65 ± 17 km. Finally, 108 (98.2%) Berlin Beat-Study participants successfully completed the 38th BMW BERLIN-MARATHON 2011.
Discussion
Findings from the “Berlin Beats of Running” study will help to balance the benefits and risks of extensive endurance sport. ECG-recording during the marathon might contribute to identify athletes at risk for cardiovascular events. MRI results will give new insights into the link between physical stress and brain damage.
Trial registration
clinicaltrials.gov NCT01428778
doi:10.1186/1471-2261-12-69
PMCID: PMC3458995  PMID: 22938148
Marathon running; ECG-recording; Magnetic resonance imaging; Blood sampling; Cardiac arrhythmia

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