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1.  Dabigatran etexilate for secondary stroke prevention: the first year experience from a multicenter short-term registry 
Background:
There are growing concerns for the side effects of dabigatran etexilate (dabigatran), including higher incidence of dyspepsia and gastrointestinal bleeding. We conducted a multicenter early implementation study to prospectively evaluate the safety, efficacy and adherence to dabigatran for secondary stroke prevention.
Methods:
Consecutive atrial fibrillation (AF) patients with ischemic stroke (IS) or transient ischemic attack (TIA) received dabigatran for secondary stroke prevention during their hospital stay according to American Heart Association recommendations at five tertiary care stroke centers. The study population was prospectively followed and outcomes were documented. The primary and secondary safety outcomes were major hemorrhage and all other bleeding events respectively defined according to RE-LY trial methodology.
Results:
A total of 78 AF patients (mean age 71 ± 9years; 54% men; 81% IS, 19% TIA; median CHADS2 (Congestive heart failure, Hypertension, diabetes mellitus, age >75 years, prior stroke or TIA); range 2–5) score 4 were treated with dabigatran [(110mg bid (74%); 150mg bid (26%)]. During a mean follow-up period of 7 ± 5 months (range 1–18) we documented no cases of IS, TIA, intracranial hemorrhage, systemic embolism or myocardial infarction in AF patients treated with dabigatran. There were two (2.6%) major bleeding events (lower gastrointestinal bleeding) and two (2.6%) minor bleedings [hematuria (n = 1) and rectal bleeding (n = 1)]. Dabigatran was discontinued in 26% of the study population with high cost being the most common reason for discontinuation (50%).
Discussion:
Our pilot data indicate that dabigatran appears to be safe for secondary stroke prevention during the first year of implementation of this therapy. However, high cost may limit the long-term treatment of AF patients with dabigatran, leading to early discontinuation.
doi:10.1177/1756285614528064
PMCID: PMC3994923  PMID: 24790645
atrial fibrillation; dabigatran etexilate; secondary prevention; stroke; transient ischemic attack
2.  Caregiver Burden in Epilepsy: Determinants and Impact 
Aim. Caregiver burden (CB) in epilepsy constitutes an understudied area. Here we attempt to identify the magnitude of this burden, the factors associated with it, and its impact to caregiver quality of life (QOL). Methods. 48 persons with epilepsy (PWE) underwent video-EEG monitoring and their caregivers completed questionnaires providing demographic, disease-related, psychiatric, cognitive, sleep, QOL, and burden information. Results. On regression analysis, higher number of antiepileptic drugs, poorer patient neuropsychological performance, lower patient QOL score, and lower caregiver education level were associated with higher CB. Time allocated to patient care approximated but did not attain statistical significance. A moderate inverse correlation between CB and caregiver QOL physical component summary score and a stronger inverse correlation between CB and caregiver QOL mental component summary score were seen. Conclusion. In a selected cohort of PWE undergoing video-EEG monitoring, we identified modest degree of CB, comparable to that reported in the literature for other chronic neurological conditions. It is associated with specific patient and caregiver characteristics and has a negative effect on caregiver QOL.
doi:10.1155/2014/808421
PMCID: PMC3997889  PMID: 24808956
3.  Association of Ultrasonographic Parameters with Subclinical White-Matter Hyperintensities in Hypertensive Patients 
Background and Purpose. Cerebral white matter hyperintensities (WMHs) are regarded as typical MRI expressions of small-vessel disease (SVD) and are common in hypertensive patients. Hypertension induces pathologic changes in macrocirculation and in microcirculation. Changes in microcirculation may lead to SVD of brain and consequently to hypertensive end-organ damage. This damage is regarded the result of interactions between the macrovascular and microvascular levels. We sought to investigate the association of cerebral WMHs with ultrasonographic parameters of cerebral macrocirculation evaluated by carotid duplex ultrasound (CDU) and transcranial doppler (TCD). Subjects and Methods. The study was prospective, cross-sectional and consecutive and included hypertensive patients with brain MRI with WMHs. Patients underwent CDU and TCD. The clinical variables recorded were demographic characteristics (age, gender, race) and vascular risk factors (hypertension, diabetic mellitus, hypercholesterolemia, current smoking, and body mass index). Excluded from the study were patients with history of clinical stroke (including lacunar stroke and hemorrhagic) or transient ischemic attack (either hemispheric or ocular), hemodynamically significant (>50%) extra- or intracranial stenosis, potential sources of cardioembolism, and absent transtemporal windows. WMHs were quantified with the use of a semiquantitative visual rating method. Ultrasound parameters investigated were (1) common carotid artery (CCA) diameter and intima-media thickness, (2) blood flow velocity in the CCA and internal carotid artery (ICA), and (3) blood flow velocity and pulsatility index of middle cerebral artery (MCA). Results. A total of 52 patients fulfilled the study inclusion criteria (mean age 71.4 ± 4.5 years, 54% men, median WMH-score: 20). The only two ultrasound parameters that were independently associated with WMH score in multivariate linear regression models adjusting for demographic characteristics and vascular risk factors were increased mean common carotid artery (CCA) diameter (beta = 0.784, SE = 0.272, P = 0.006, R2 = 23.9%) and increased middle cerebral artery pulsatility index (MCA-PI; beta = 0.262, SE = 0.110, P = 0.025, R2 = 9.0%). Among all ultrasound parameters the highest AUC (areas under the receiver operating characteristic curve) were documented for MCA-PI (AUC = 0.82, 95% CI = 0.68−0.95, P < 0.001) and mean CCA diameter (AUC = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.67−0.92, P < 0.001). Conclusions. Our study showed that in hypertensive individuals with brain SVD the extent of structural changes in cerebral microcirculation as reflected by WMHs burden is associated with the following ultrasound parameters of cerebral macrocirculation: CCA diameter and MCA-PI.
doi:10.1155/2012/616572
PMCID: PMC3463900  PMID: 23056917
4.  Mild cognitive impairment: effect of education on the verbal and nonverbal tasks performance decline 
Brain and Behavior  2012;2(5):620-627.
We sought to longitudinally evaluate the potential association of educational level with performance on verbal and nonverbal tasks in individuals with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). We evaluated patients with MCI, age >50 years, no medication intake, absent vascular risk factors, and no lesions on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Each patient underwent a clinical assessment packet and a series of neuropsychological tests of the language and constructional praxis subtests of Cambridge Cognitive Examination (CAMGOG) and the Boston naming test (BNT), at baseline, 6 months, and 12 months. Educational levels were defined taking into account the total years of education, the school level, and diplomas. MCI patients with low education level showed a stepwise reduction in scores of naming objects (NO; P = 0.009), definition (DF; P = 0.012), language (LT; P = 0.021), constructional praxis (CD; P = 0.022), confrontation naming skills (BXB; P = 0.033), phonemic help (BFB; P = 0.041), and BNT (P = 0.002). Analysis of covariance, controlling for baseline scores, showed that education was associated with NO score (P = 0.002), DF score (P = 0.005), LT (P = 0.008), CD score (P = 0.008), BXB score (44.36 ± 1.84, P = 0.0001), BFB (P = 0.022), and BNT (P = 0.004). Our findings indicate that education appeared to affect verbal and nonverbal task performance in MCI patients. Despite the fact that higher educated patients are more acquainted with the tasks, slower deterioration in consecutive follow-up examinations could be explained by the cognitive reserve theory. The potential association of this protective effect with delayed onset of symptoms deserves further investigation.
doi:10.1002/brb3.88
PMCID: PMC3489814  PMID: 23139907
Cognitive reserve; mild cognitive impairment; nonverbal; verbal

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