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Stroke. 2005 Nov;36(11):2497-9. Epub 2005 Oct 6.

Poor outcomes in patients who do not receive intravenous tissue plasminogen activator because of mild or improving ischemic stroke.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA. eesmith@partners.org



Some patients with mild or improving ischemic stroke symptoms do not receive intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) because they look "too good to treat" (TGT); however, some have poor outcomes.


We retrospectively analyzed data from a prospective single-center study between 2002 and 2004. TGT patients were those arriving within 3 hours of symptom onset and not treated with intravenous tPA solely because of mild or improving symptoms.


Of 128 patients presenting within 3 hours, 41 (34%) were not given tPA because of mild or improving stroke. Of the TGT patients, 11 of 41 (27%) died or were not discharged home because of neurological worsening (n=6) or persistent "mild" neurological deficit (n=5). No single variable at presentation was associated with death or lack of home discharge. There were 10 of 41 TGT patients (24%) who had > or =4-point improvement in National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score before tPA decision; these patients were more likely to have subsequent neurological worsening (relative risk, 4.1, 95% CI, 1.1 to 15.4; P=0.05).


A substantial minority of patients deemed too good for intravenous tPA were unable to be discharged home. A re-evaluation of the stroke severity criteria for tPA eligibility may be indicated.

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