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BMC Neurol. 2012 Oct 18;12:123. doi: 10.1186/1471-2377-12-123.

Temporal profile of body temperature in acute ischemic stroke: relation to stroke severity and outcome.

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  • 1Division of Clinical Neurosciences, University of Edinburgh, Western General Hospital, Crewe Rd, Edinburgh EH4 2XU, UK.



Pyrexia after stroke (temperature ≥37.5°C) is associated with poor prognosis, but information on timing of body temperature changes and relationship to stroke severity and subtypes varies.


We recruited patients with acute ischemic stroke, measured stroke severity, stroke subtype and recorded four-hourly tympanic (body) temperature readings from admission to 120 hours after stroke. We sought causes of pyrexia and measured functional outcome at 90 days. We systematically summarised all relevant previous studies.


Amongst 44 patients (21 males, mean age 72 years SD 11) with median National Institute of Health Stroke Score (NIHSS) 7 (range 0-28), 14 had total anterior circulation strokes (TACS). On admission all patients, both TACS and non-TACS, were normothermic (median 36.3°C vs 36.5°C, p=0.382 respectively) at median 4 hours (interquartile range, IQR, 2-8) after stroke; admission temperature and NIHSS were not associated (r(2)=0.0, p=0.353). Peak temperature, occurring at 35.5 (IQR 19.0 to 53.8) hours after stroke, was higher in TACS (37.7°C) than non-TACS (37.1°C, p<0.001) and was associated with admission NIHSS (r(2)=0.20, p=0.002). Poor outcome (modified Rankin Scale ≥3) at 90 days was associated with higher admission (36.6°C vs. 36.2°C p=0.031) and peak (37.4°C vs. 37.0°C, p=0.016) temperatures. Sixteen (36%) patients became pyrexial, in seven (44%) of whom we found no cause other than the stroke.


Normothermia is usual within the first 4 hours of stroke. Peak temperature occurs at 1.5 to 2 days after stroke, and is related to stroke severity/subtype and more closely associated with poor outcome than admission temperature. Temperature-outcome associations after stroke are complex, but normothermia on admission should not preclude randomisation of patients into trials of therapeutic hypothermia.

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