Ischaemic Stroke

Bruce C. V. Campbell1,2*, Deidre A. De Silva3, Malcolm R. Macleod4, Shelagh B. Coutts5, Lee H. Schwamm6, Stephen M. Davis1 and Geoffrey A. Donnan1,2

Abstract | Stroke is the second highest cause of death globally and a leading cause of disability, with an increasing incidence in developing countries. Ischaemic stroke caused by arterial occlusion is responsible for the majority of strokes. Management focuses on rapid reperfusion with intravenous thrombolysis and endovascular thrombectomy, which both reduce disability but are time-critical.

Accordingly, improving the system of care to reduce treatment delays is key to maximizing the benefits of reperfusion therapies. Intravenous thrombolysis reduces disability when administered within 4.5h of the onset of stroke. Thrombolysis also benefits selected patients with evidence from perfusion imaging of salvageable brain tissue for up to 9h and in patients who awake with stroke symptoms. Endovascular thrombectomy reduces disability in a broad group of patients with large vessel occlusion when performed within 6h of stroke onset and in patients selected by perfusion imaging up to 24h following stroke onset.

Secondary prevention of ischaemic stroke shares many common elements with cardiovascular risk management in other fields, including blood pressure control, cholesterol management and antithrombotic medications. Other preventative interventions are tailored to the mechanism of stroke, such as anticoagulation for atrial fibrillation and carotid endarterectomy for severe symptomatic carotid artery stenosis.

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