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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e59420. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0059420. Epub 2013 Mar 19.

The outcome of patients with mild stroke improves after treatment with systemic thrombolysis.

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Functional Unit of Cerebrovascular Diseases, Hospital Clínic, Barcelona, Spain.



In up to one third of patients with mild stroke suitable to receive systemic thrombolysis the treatment is not administered because the treating physicians estimate a good spontaneous recovery. However, it is not settled whether the fate of these patients is equivalent to those who are thrombolysed.


We analyzed 203 consecutive patients (134 men and 69 women, mean age 69±14 years) without premorbid disability and a NIHSS score ≤5 at admission [median 3 (IQR 2-4)]. Intravenous thrombolysis was administered within 4.5 hours from stroke onset (n = 119), or it was withheld (n = 84) whenever the treating physician predicted a spontaneous recovery. The baseline risk factors, clinical course, infarction volume, bleeding complications, and functional outcome at 3 months were analyzed and declared to a Web-based registry which was accessible to the local Health Authorities.


Expectedly, not thrombolysed patients had the mildest strokes at admission [median 2 (IQR 1-3.75)]. At day 2 to 5, the infarct volume on DWI-MRI was similar in both groups. There were no symptomatic cerebral bleedings in the study. An ordinal regression model adjusted for baseline stroke severity showed that thrombolysis was associated with a greater proportion of patients who shifted down on the modified Rankin Scale score at 3 months (OR 2.66; 95% CI 1.49-4.74, p = 0.001).


Intravenous thrombolysis seems to be safe in patients with mild stroke and may be associated with improved outcome compared with untreated patients. These results support the evaluation of the efficacy of intravenous thrombolysis in mild stroke patients in randomized clinical trials.

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