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Front Neurol. 2011 Dec 30;2:89. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2011.00089. eCollection 2011.

The case for an elderly targeted stroke management.

Author information

  • Department of Neurology, INEBA-Instituto de Neurociencias Buenos Aires, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Buenos Aires Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Abstract

Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. The elderly, in whom atrial fibrillation (AF) is most prevalent, carry the greatest risk, undergoing more recurrent, deadlier strokes, with bigger deficits, slower recoveries, and more comorbidities. Evidence-based data on advanced age stroke management are scarce. Age-related cerebral changes might undermine the benefit of established stroke treatments. Nevertheless, the elderly should probably also undergo thrombolysis for ischemic stroke: they do not bleed more, and die not because of hemorrhage but of concomitant illnesses. Beyond natural bleeding risks, AF in advanced age has a high embolic potential if not anticoagulated. Standard or lower intensity warfarin anticoagulation prevents embolic stroke in the elderly with a hemorrhage risk even lower than aspirin. In fact, adverse effects seem to occur more often with aspirin. Excess anticoagulation hazards are prevented with lower starting doses, stricter corrections, more frequent International Normalized Ratio monitoring, and longer adjustment intervals. Validated prognostic scores such as CHADS(2) help minimize bleeds. Direct inhibitors have recently shown a benefit similar to warfarin with fewer hemorrhages. Carefully tailoring antithrombotics to this age group is therefore useful. Antihypertensives probably help 80-plus stroke patients as well, but the risk/benefit of lowering blood pressure in secondary stroke prevention at that age is uncertain. Evidence-based data on diabetes management and use of lipid-lowering drugs are still lacking in this age group. In summary, emerging data suggest that stroke management should be specifically targeted to the elderly to better prevent its devastating consequences in the population at the highest risk.

KEYWORDS:

antithrombotics; elderly population; stroke management

PMID:
22232616
[PubMed]
PMCID:
PMC3248648
Free PMC Article
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