Aphasia is a severely disabling condition occurring in 20 to 25% of stroke patients. Most patients with aphasia due to stroke receive speech and language therapy. Methodologically sound randomised controlled trials investigating the effect of specific interventions for patients with aphasia following stroke are scarce. The currently available evidence suggests that intensive speech and language therapy is beneficial for restoration of communication, but the optimal timing of treatment is as yet unclear.
In the Rotterdam Aphasia Therapy Study-3 we aim to test the hypothesis that patients with aphasia due to stroke benefit more from early intensive cognitive-linguistic therapy than from deferred regular language therapy.
In a single blinded, multicentre, randomised controlled trial, 150 patients with first ever aphasia due to stroke will be randomised within two weeks after stroke to either early intensive cognitive-linguistic therapy (Group A) or deferred regular therapy (Group B). Group A will start as soon as possible, at the latest two weeks after stroke, with a four week period of one hour a day treatment with cognitive-linguistic therapy. In Group B professional speech and language therapy is deferred for four weeks. After this period, patients will follow the conventional procedure of speech and language therapy. Participants will be tested with an extensive linguistic test battery at four weeks, three months and six months after inclusion. Primary outcome measure is the difference in score between the two treatment groups on the Amsterdam-Nijmegen Everyday Language Test, a measure of everyday verbal communication, four weeks after randomisation.
This trial is registered in the Dutch Trial Register (http://www.trialregister.nl), NTR3271.
Aphasia; Stroke; Cognitive-linguistic therapy; Treatment; Timing; Intensity; RCT
Cerebral small vessel disease (CSVD) is thought to contribute to cognitive dysfunction in patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). The underlying mechanisms, and more specifically, the effects of CSVD on brain functioning in MCI are incompletely understood. The objective of the present study was to examine the effects of CSVD on brain functioning, activation and deactivation, in patients with MCI using task-related functional MRI (fMRI).
We included 16 MCI patients with CSVD, 26 MCI patients without CSVD and 25 controls. All participants underwent a physical and neurological examination, neuropsychological testing, structural MRI, and fMRI during a graded working memory paradigm.
MCI patients with and without CSVD had a similar neuropsychological profile and task performance during fMRI, but differed with respect to underlying (de)activation patterns. MCI patients with CSVD showed impaired deactivation in the precuneus/posterior cingulate cortex, a region known to be involved in the default mode network. In MCI patients without CSVD, brain activation depended on working memory load, as they showed relative ‘hyperactivation’ during vigilance, and ‘hypoactivation’ at a high working memory load condition in working memory related brain regions.
We present evidence that the potential underlying mechanism of CSVD affecting cognition in MCI is through network interference. The observed differences in brain activation and deactivation between MCI patients with and without CSVD, who had a similar ‘clinical phenotype’, support the view that, in patients with MCI, different types of pathology can contribute to cognitive impairment through different pathways.
Mild cognitive impairment; Cerebral small vessel disease; Functional MRI; Working memory; Default mode network
Several studies indicate that only a small proportion of patients with acute ischaemic stroke are treated with intravenous thrombolysis. Indications and contraindications for this treatment are usually based on the inclusion and exclusion criteria of randomised clinical trials. The trial context of these criteria hampers implementation in real life settings. We therefore aimed to obtain specialist opinion in a Delphi consensus on these contraindications.
We used the Delphi approach on an international group of specialists in the field of thrombolysis. Inclusion and exclusion criteria were reworded into 18 quantitatively phrased propositions. Feedback consisted of the median score, interquartile range and the panellist's own score in the previous round. For each item, we defined consensus as the achievement of an interdecile range within two prespecified clinically relevant units.
Thirty‐one specialists participated in the first round and 30 completed all three rounds. Consensus was reached on 12 of the 18 propositions: previous ischaemic stroke, head trauma and gastrointestinal tract bleeding should not have taken place earlier than 1.5 months, 2 months and 14 days, respectively; the severity of the neurological deficit is defined as a National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score of 2–3 or more, and blood pressure level should not be >185/110 mmHg; platelet count should be >90×1012/l, glucose levels 2.7–22 mmol/l, international normalised ratio <1.5 and activated partial thromboplastin time <50 s. No consensus was reached on propositions concerning the stroke onset to treatment time, patient's age, recent medical procedures, spontaneous improvement rate and blood pressure treatment.
We present specialists' opinion on contraindications for intravenous thrombolysis in ischaemic stroke. The results of this study may be relevant for routine clinical practice as they may help to increase the number of treated patients.
Intracerebral hemorrhage is the second most common subtype of stroke. In recent decades our understanding of intracerebral hemorrhage has improved. New risk factors have been identified; more knowledge has been obtained on previously known risk factors; and new imaging techniques allow for in vivo assessment of preclinical markers of intracerebral hemorrhage. In this review the latest developments in research on intracerebral hemorrhage are highlighted from an epidemiologic point of view. Special focus is on frequency, etiologic factors and pre-clinical markers of intracerebral hemorrhage.
Intracerebral hemorrhage; Risk factors; Epidemiology; Microbleeds; Incidence; Hypertension
Stroke incidence rates have decreased in developed countries over the past 40 years, but trends vary across populations. We investigated whether age-and-sex-specific stroke incidence rates and associated risk factors as well as preventive medication use have changed in Rotterdam in the Netherlands during the last two decades. The study was part of the Rotterdam Study, a large population-based cohort study among elderly people. Participants were 10,994 men and women aged 55–94 years who were stroke-free at baseline. Trends were calculated by comparing the 1990 subcohort (n = 7516; baseline 1990–1993) with the 2000 subcohort (n = 2883; baseline 2000–2001). Poisson regression was used to calculate incidence rates and incidence rate ratios in age-and-sex-specific strata. We further compared the prevalence of stroke risk factors and preventive medication use in the two subcohorts. In the 1990 subcohort 467 strokes occurred during 45,428 person years; in the 2000 subcohort 115 strokes occurred in 18,356 person years. Comparing the subcohorts, incidence rates decreased by 34% in men, but remained unchanged in women. Blood pressure levels increased between 1990 and 2000, whereas the proportion of current cigarette smokers decreased in men, but not in women. There was a strong increase in medication use for treatment of stroke risk factors across all age categories in both sexes. Our findings suggest that in Rotterdam between 1990 and 2008 stroke incidence rates have decreased in men but not in women.
Stroke; Epidemiology; Incidence; Cohort study; Risk factors; Trends
Neuroimaging plays an important role in etiologic research on neurological diseases in the elderly. The Rotterdam Scan Study was initiated as part of the ongoing Rotterdam Study with the aim to unravel causes of neurological disease by performing neuroimaging in a population-based longitudinal setting. In 1995 and 1999 random subsets of the Rotterdam Study underwent neuroimaging, whereas from 2005 onwards MRI has been implemented into the core protocol of the Rotterdam Study. In this paper, we discuss the background and rationale of the Rotterdam Scan Study. We also describe the imaging protocol and post-processing techniques, and highlight the main findings to date. Finally, we make recommendations for future research, which will also be the main focus of investigation in the Rotterdam Scan Study.
Epidemiology; Population-based; Risk factors; Neuroimaging; Cohort study; Dementia; Stroke; Alzheimer’s disease; Microbleeds; White matter lesions; Infarcts; Cerebral blood flow; Diffusion tensor imaging; Genetics
To investigate the relation between retinopathy and the risk of dementia.
We investigated the associations between retinopathy and dementia and its subtypes Alzheimer disease (AD) and vascular dementia both cross-sectionally and prospectively in the Rotterdam Study, a large population-based cohort study. Digitized retinal images were available for 195 participants with prevalent dementia and 6,078 participants without dementia at baseline (1990–1993). Participants were reexamined in 1993–1994, 1997–1999, and 2002–2004 and were continuously monitored for development of dementia until January 1, 2007. Retinopathy was graded on fundus photographs and was defined as the presence of one or more dot/blot hemorrhages, microaneurysms, cotton wool spots, or evidence of laser treatment for retinopathy.
Retinopathy was associated with prevalent dementia (age and sex-adjusted odds ratio 2.04, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.34–3.09). Results were similar for AD and vascular dementia. During a mean follow-up of 11.4 years, 735 participants developed incident dementia, of whom 583 had AD and 80 had vascular dementia. There was no association of retinopathy at baseline with the risk of incident dementia during follow-up (age- and sex-adjusted hazard ratio 1.15, 95% CI 0.88–1.48) or the risk of incident AD or vascular dementia.
Retinopathy is more prevalent in persons with dementia but is not associated with an increased risk of dementia over time.
Serum antibodies to the ganglioside GQ1b are associated with immune-mediated ophthalmoplegia and ataxia in patients with Miller–Fisher syndrome (MFS) and Guillain–Barré syndrome. A patient with two clinically similar episodes of progressive bulbar signs, ophthalmoplegia and ataxia is reported here. During both episodes the patient required artificial ventilation. Serum anti-GQ1b antibodies were detected during the first episode compatible with MFS, but were absent during the second. Neuroradiological investigations during the second episode showed brain stem ischaemia and obstruction of the left posterior inferior cerebral artery. These findings illustrate that anti-GQ1b serology is a reliable and robust method that helped to distinguish between different causes of relapsing dysarthria and ataxia.
After minor head injury (MHI), post-concussive symptoms commonly occur. The purpose of this study was to correlate the severity of post-concussive symptoms in MHI patients with MRI measures of microstructural brain injury, namely mean diffusivity (MD) and fractional anisotropy (FA), as well as the presence of microhaemorrhages.
Twenty MHI patients and 12 healthy controls were scanned at 3 T using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and high-resolution gradient recalled echo (HRGRE) T2*-weighted sequences. One patient was excluded from the analysis because of bilateral subdural haematomas. DTI data were preprocessed using Tract Based Spatial Statistics. The resulting MD and FA images were correlated with the severity of post-concussive symptoms evaluated with the Rivermead Postconcussion Symptoms Questionnaire. The number and location of microhaemorrhages were assessed on the HRGRE T2*-weighted images.
Comparing patients with controls, there were no differences in MD. FA was decreased in the right temporal subcortical white matter. MD was increased in association with the severity of post-concussive symptoms in the inferior fronto-occipital fasciculus (IFO), the inferior longitudinal fasciculus and the superior longitudinal fasciculus. FA was reduced in association with the severity of post-concussive symptoms in the uncinate fasciculus, the IFO, the internal capsule and the corpus callosum, as well as in the parietal and frontal subcortical white matter. Microhaemorrhages were observed in one patient only.
The severity of post-concussive symptoms after MHI was significantly correlated with a reduction of white matter integrity, providing evidence of microstructural brain injury as a neuropathological substrate of the post-concussion syndrome.
Craniocerebral trauma; Post-concussion syndrome; Diffusion tensor imaging; Magnetic resonance imaging; Cognition disorder
Subfebrile temperature or fever is present in about a third of patients on the first day after stroke onset and is associated with poor outcome. However, the temporal profile of this association is not well established. We aimed to assess the relationship between body temperature on admission as well as the change in body temperature from admission to 24 h thereafter and functional outcome and death. We analyzed data of 1,332 patients admitted within 12 h of stroke onset. The relation between body temperature on admission or the change in body temperature from admission to 24 h thereafter (adjusted for body temperature on admission) on the one hand and unfavorable outcome (death, or a modified Rankin Scale score >2) at 3 months on the other were expressed as odds ratio per 1.0°C increase in body temperature. Adjustments for potential confounders were made with a multiple logistic regression model. No relation was found between admission body temperature and poor outcome (aOR 1.06; 95% CI 0.85–1.32) and death (aOR 1.23; 95% CI 0.95–1.60). In contrast, increased body temperature in the first 24 h after stroke onset was associated with poor outcome (aOR 1.30; 95% CI 1.05–1.63) and death (aOR 1.51; 95% CI 1.15–1.98). An early rise in body temperature rather than high body temperature on admission is a risk factor for unfavorable outcome in patients with acute stroke.
Stroke; Body temperature; Clinical outcome
In quality of care research, limited information is found on the relationship between quality of care and disease outcomes. This case-control study was conducted with the aim to assess the effect of guideline adherence for stroke prevention on the occurrence of stroke in general practice. We report on the problems related to a variant of confounding by indication, that may be common in quality of care studies.
Stroke patients (cases) and controls were recruited from the general practitioner's (GP) patient register, and an expert panel assessed the quality of care of cases and controls using guideline-based review criteria.
A total of 86 patients was assessed. Compared to patients without shortcomings in preventive care, patients who received sub-optimal care appeared to have a lower risk of experiencing a stroke (OR 0.60; 95% CI 0.24 to 1.53). This result was partly explained by the presence of risk factors (6.1 per cases, 4.4 per control), as reflected by the finding that the OR came much closer to 1.00 after adjustment for the number of risk factors (OR 0.82; 95% CI 0.29 to 2.30). Patients with more risk factors for stroke had a lower risk of sub-optimal care (OR for the number of risk factors present 0.76; 95% CI 0.61 to 0.94). This finding represents a variant of 'confounding by indication', which could not be fully adjusted for due to incomplete information on risk factors for stroke.
At present, inaccurate recording of patient and risk factor information by GPs seriously limits the potential use of a case-control method to assess the effect of guideline adherence on disease outcome in general practice. We conclude that studies on the effect of quality of care on disease outcomes, like other observational studies of intended treatment effect, should be designed and performed such that confounding by indication is minimized.
During the first days after stroke, one to two fifths of the patients develop fever or subfebrile temperatures. Body temperature is a strong prognostic factor after stroke. Pharmacological reduction of temperature in patients with acute ischaemic stroke may improve their functional outcome. Previously, we studied the effect of high dose (6 g daily) and low dose (3 g daily) paracetamol (acetaminophen) in a randomised placebo-controlled trial of 75 patients with acute ischemic stroke. In the high-dose paracetamol group, mean body temperature at 12 and 24 hours after start of treatment was 0.4°C lower than in the placebo group. The effect of ibuprofen, another potent antipyretic drug, on body-core temperature in normothermic patients has not been studied.
The aim of the present trial is to study the effects of high-dose paracetamol and ibuprofen on body temperature in patients with acute ischaemic stroke, and to study the safety of these treatments.
Seventy-five (3 × 25) patients with acute ischaemic stroke confined to the anterior circulation will be randomised to treatment with either: 400 mg ibuprofen, 1000 mg acetaminophen, or with placebo 6 times daily during 5 days. Body-temperatures will be measured with a rectal electronic thermometer at the start of treatment and after 24 hours. An infrared tympanic thermometer will be used to monitor body temperature at 2-hour intervals during the first 24 hours and at 12-hour intervals thereafter. The primary outcome measure will be rectal temperature at 24 hours after the start of treatment. The study results will be analysed on an intent-to-treat basis, but an on-treatment analysis will also be performed. No formal interim analysis will be carried out.
Genome wide association studies (GWAS) have recently identified CLU, PICALM and CR1 as novel genes for late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
In a three-stage analysis of new and previously published GWAS on over 35000 persons (8371 AD cases), we sought to identify and strengthen additional loci associated with AD and confirm these in an independent sample. We also examined the contribution of recently identified genes to AD risk prediction.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We identified strong genetic associations (p<10−3) in a Stage 1 sample of 3006 AD cases and 14642 controls by combining new data from the population-based Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium (1367 AD cases (973 incident)) with previously reported results from the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGEN) and Mayo AD GWAS. We identified 2708 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with p-values<10−3, and in Stage 2 pooled results for these SNPs with the European AD Initiative (2032 cases, 5328 controls) to identify ten loci with p-values<10−5. In Stage 3, we combined data for these ten loci with data from the Genetic and Environmental Risk in AD consortium (3333 cases, 6995 controls) to identify four SNPs with a p-value<1.7×10−8. These four SNPs were replicated in an independent Spanish sample (1140 AD cases and 1209 controls).
Main outcome measure
We showed genome-wide significance for two new loci: rs744373 near BIN1 (OR:1.13; 95%CI:1.06–1.21 per copy of the minor allele; p=1.6×10−11) and rs597668 near EXOC3L2/BLOC1S3/MARK4 (OR:1.18; 95%CI1.07–1.29; p=6.5×10−9). Associations of CLU, PICALM, BIN1 and EXOC3L2 with AD were confirmed in the Spanish sample (p<0.05). However, CLU and PICALM did not improve incident AD prediction beyond age, sex, and APOE (improvement in area under receiver-operating-characteristic curve <0.003).
Two novel genetic loci for AD are reported that for the first time reach genome-wide statistical significance; these findings were replicated in an independent population. Two recently reported associations were also confirmed, but these loci did not improve AD risk prediction, although they implicate biological pathways that may be useful targets for potential interventions.
genome-wide association study; genetic epidemiology; genetics; dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; cohort study; meta-analysis; risk
Previous studies examining genetic associations with MRI-defined brain infarct have yielded inconsistent findings. We investigated genetic variation underlying covert MRI-infarct, in persons without histories of transient ischemic attack or stroke. We performed meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies of white participants in 6 studies comprising the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE) consortium.
Using 2.2 million genotyped and imputed SNPs, each study performed cross-sectional genome-wide association analysis of MRI-infarct using age and sex-adjusted logistic regression models. Study-specific findings were combined in an inverse-variance weighted meta-analysis, including 9401 participants with mean age 69.7, 19.4% of whom had ≥1 MRI-infarct.
The most significant association was found with rs2208454 (minor allele frequency: 20%), located in intron 3 of MACRO Domain Containing 2 gene and in the downstream region of Fibronectin Leucine Rich Transmembrane Protein 3 gene. Each copy of the minor allele was associated with lower risk of MRI-infarcts: odds ratio=0.76, 95% confidence interval=0.68–0.84, p=4.64×10−7. Highly suggestive associations (p<1.0×10−5) were also found for 22 other SNPs in linkage disequilibrium (r2>0.64) with rs2208454. The association with rs2208454 did not replicate in independent samples of 1822 white and 644 African-American participants, although 4 SNPs within 200kb from rs2208454 were associated with MRI-infarcts in African-American sample.
This first community-based, genome-wide association study on covert MRI-infarcts uncovered novel associations. Although replication of the association with top SNP failed, possibly due to insufficient power, results in the African American sample are encouraging, and further efforts at replication are needed.
genome-wide association study; brain infarction; MRI; cohort study; meta-analysis
The genes underlying the risk of stroke in the general population remain undetermined.
We carried out an analysis of genomewide association data generated from four large cohorts composing the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology consortium, including 19,602 white persons (mean [±SD] age, 63±8 years) in whom 1544 incident strokes (1164 ischemic strokes) developed over an average follow-up of 11 years. We tested the markers most strongly associated with stroke in a replication cohort of 2430 black persons with 215 incident strokes (191 ischemic strokes), another cohort of 574 black persons with 85 incident strokes (68 ischemic strokes), and 652 Dutch persons with ischemic stroke and 3613 unaffected persons.
Two intergenic single-nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 12p13 and within 11 kb of the gene NINJ2 were associated with stroke (P<5×10−8). NINJ2 encodes an adhesion molecule expressed in glia and shows increased expression after nerve injury. Direct genotyping showed that rs12425791 was associated with an increased risk of total (i.e., all types) and ischemic stroke, with hazard ratios of 1.30 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.19 to 1.42) and 1.33 (95% CI, 1.21 to 1.47), respectively, yielding population attributable risks of 11% and 12% in the discovery cohorts. Corresponding hazard ratios were 1.35 (95% CI, 1.01 to 1.79; P = 0.04) and 1.42 (95% CI, 1.06 to 1.91; P=0.02) in the large cohort of black persons and 1.17 (95% CI, 1.01 to 1.37; P = 0.03) and 1.19 (95% CI, 1.01 to 1.41; P = 0.04) in the Dutch sample; the results of an underpowered analysis of the smaller black cohort were nonsignificant.
A genetic locus on chromosome 12p13 is associated with an increased risk of stroke.
The Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) In Stroke (PAIS) study is a phase III multicenter, double blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of high-dose acetaminophen in patients with acute stroke. The trial compares treatment with a daily dose of 6 g acetaminophen, started within 12 hours after the onset of symptoms, with matched placebo. The purpose of this study is to assess whether treatment with acetaminophen for 3 days will result in improved functional outcome through a modest reduction in body temperature and prevention of fever.
The previously planned statistical analysis based on a dichotomization of the scores on the modified Rankin Scale (mRS) may not make the most efficient use of the available baseline information. Therefore, the planned primary analysis of the PAIS study has been changed from fixed dichotomization of the mRS to a sliding dichotomy analysis.
Instead of taking a single definition of good outcome for all patients, the definition is tailored to each individual patient's baseline prognosis on entry into the trial.
The protocol change was initiated because of both advances in statistical approaches and to increase the efficiency of the trial by improving statistical power.
Current Controlled Trials [ISCRTN74418480]
In patients with acute stroke, increased body temperature is associated with large lesion volumes, high case fatality, and poor functional outcome. A 1°C increase in body temperature may double the odds of poor outcome. Two randomized double-blind clinical trials in patients with acute ischemic stroke have shown that treatment with a daily dose of 6 g acetaminophen (paracetamol) results in a small but rapid and potentially worthwhile reduction of 0.3°C (95% CI: 0.1–0.5) in body temperature. We set out to test the hypothesis that early antipyretic therapy reduces the risk of death or dependency in patients with acute stroke, even if they are normothermic.
Paracetamol (Acetaminophen) In Stroke (PAIS) is a randomized, double-blind clinical trial, comparing high-dose acetaminophen with placebo in 2500 patients. Inclusion criteria are a clinical diagnosis of hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke and the possibility to start treatment within 12 hours from onset of symptoms. The study will have a power of 86% to detect an absolute difference of 6% in the risk of death or dependency at three months, and a power of 72% to detect an absolute difference of 5%, at a 5% significance level.
This is a simple trial, with a drug that only has a small effect on body temperature in normothermic patients. However, when lowering body temperature with acetaminophen does have the expected effectiveness, 20 patients will have to be treated to prevent dependency or death in one.
Body temperature is a strong predictor of outcome in acute stroke. In a previous randomized trial we observed that treatment with high-dose acetaminophen (paracetamol) led to a reduction of body temperature in patients with acute ischemic stroke, even when they had no fever. The purpose of the present trial was to study whether this effect of acetaminophen could be reproduced, and whether ibuprofen would have a similar, or even stronger effect.
Seventy-five patients with acute ischemic stroke confined to the anterior circulation were randomized to treatment with either 1000 mg acetaminophen, 400 mg ibuprofen, or placebo, given 6 times daily during 5 days. Treatment was started within 24 hours from the onset of symptoms. Body temperatures were measured at 2-hour intervals during the first 24 hours, and at 6-hour intervals thereafter.
No difference in body temperature at 24 hours was observed between the three treatment groups. However, treatment with high-dose acetaminophen resulted in a 0.3°C larger reduction in body temperature from baseline than placebo treatment (95% CI: 0.0 to 0.6 °C). Acetaminophen had no significant effect on body temperature during the subsequent four days compared to placebo, and ibuprofen had no statistically significant effect on body temperature during the entire study period.
Treatment with a daily dose of 6000 mg acetaminophen results in a small, but potentially worthwhile decrease in body temperature after acute ischemic stroke, even in normothermic and subfebrile patients. Further large randomized clinical trials are needed to study whether early reduction of body temperature leads to improved outcome.