Critical care of acute ischemic stroke
- Cite this article as:
- Bernstein, R.A. & Hemphill, J.C. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep (2001) 1: 587. doi:10.1007/s11910-001-0066-y
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Advances in neurologic therapeutics and intensive care medicine have expanded the arsenal of treatments available for the critical care of ischemic stroke. Several agents are available for acute reperfusion of the ischemic brain. These include intravenous recombinant tissue-plasminogen activator (rtPA), which is effective in a 3-hour time window, and intra-arterial thrombolytics, which may be effective within 6 hours. In addition, newer agents such as Ancrod and abciximab may be effective within the acute time period. Efforts to prevent secondary brain injury in critically ill patients with stroke often include prevention and reduction of fever, induced hypertension, and mechanical ventilation. Finally, death due to severe brain edema after massive hemispheric infarction can often be prevented with surgical or medical intervention. Unfortunately, there is a critical lack of well-designed clinical studies to guide the clinician in the use of these interventions. In addition, there is concern that some of these interventions may preserve life at the cost of quality of life. This article reviews the evidence behind these approaches to the critical care of ischemic stroke.