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J Thromb Thrombolysis. 2005 Aug;20(1):5-10.

Thrombolysis for stroke in the elderly.

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Department of Neurology, University of Regensburg, Universitaetsstrasse 84, D-93053 Regensburg, Germany.



Systemic thrombolysis with intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt PA) for acute ischemic stroke had been licensed for patients up to 75 years in age in many European countries and was recently extended to 80 years. This age restriction results from the potential higher risk of cerebral bleeding in the elderly. The major rt PA trials included only 42 patients above 80 years showing a potential benefit from treatment. Further data is still rare.


Using our stroke database we identified all patients beyond 75 years with middle cerebral artery ischemia treated with intravenous rt PA in our stroke unit from 02/1999 until 07/2004. Clinical course and outcome until day 5 in addition to mortality after 3 and 6 months were analysed.


Twenty-nine patients (80.8+/-4 years, 16 of them over 80 years old) met the inclusion criteria representing 21.2% of those receiving thrombolytic therapy. The median NIH-SS score on admission was 14 points. On day 5 after thrombolysis, 13/29 showed a good recovery (NIH-SS improvement >or=4 pts). The remaining exhibited only small or no benefit (n=11), deterioration (n=3) or died (n=2). A total of 3/29 patients developed non-symptomatic parenchymal hemorrhage or hemorrhagic transformation. One patient died due to space-occupying cerebral hemorrhage. Extracerebral bleeding was found in 3/29 requiring substitution in one. One other died for primary cardiac reasons. Median NIH-SS on day 5 was 10 points. Mortality after 3 and 6 months was 20.7%. We did not find factors predicting clinical outcome. Most importantly, there was no significant difference regarding outcome in patients 76--80 vs. 81--87 years old.


Intravenous rt PA resulted in good neurological in-hospital outcome in almost 45% and six-months survival of almost 80% of the patients beyond 75 years. In 10.3% non-symptomatic and in 3.4% symptomatic cerebral bleeding was found. Thus, seniors beyond 75 and even beyond 80 years in good medical condition may benefit from systemic treatment with rt PA. Prospective studies are needed to clarify which part of the senior population might be most eligible for systemic thrombolysis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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