CHICAGO – A recent history of GI bleeding or malignancy may not be a valid contraindication to thrombolytic therapy in patients with an acute ischemic stroke, based on a review of outcomes from more than 40,000 U.S. stroke patients.
The analysis showed that, among 40,396 U.S. patients who had an acute ischemic stroke during 2009-2015 and received timely treatment with alteplase, “we did not find statistically significant increased rates of in-hospital mortality or bleeding” in the small number of patients who received alteplase (Activase) despite a recent GI bleed or diagnosed GI malignancy, Taku Inohara, MD, said at the American Heart Association scientific sessions. The 2018 Guidelines for the Early Management of Patients With Acute Ischemic Stroke deemed thrombolytic therapy with alteplase in these types of patients contraindicated, based on consensus expert opinion (Stroke. 2018 March;49:e66-e110).
“Further study is needed to evaluate the safety of recombinant tissue–type plasminogen activator [alteplase] in this specific population,” suggested Dr. Inohara, a cardiologist and research fellow at Duke University, Durham, N.C.
His analysis used data collected by the Get With the Guidelines–Stroke program, a voluntary quality promotion and improvement program that during 2009-2015 included records for more than 633,000 U.S. stroke patients that could be linked with records kept by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. From this database, 40,396 patients (6%) treated with alteplase within 4.5 hours of stroke onset were identified. The alteplase-treated patients included 93 with a diagnosis code during the prior year for a GI malignancy and 43 with a diagnostic code within the prior 21 days for a GI bleed.
Dr. Inohara and his associates determined patients’ mortality during their stroke hospitalization, as well as several measures of functional recovery at hospital discharge and thrombolysis-related complications. For each of these endpoints, the rate among patients with a GI malignancy, a GI bleed, or the rate among a combined group of both patients showed no statistically significant differences, compared with the more than 40,000 other patients without a GI complication after adjustment for several demographic and clinical between-group differences. However, Dr. Inohara cautioned that residual or unmeasured confounding may exist that distorts these findings. The rate of in-hospital mortality, the prespecified primary endpoint for the analysis, was 10% among patients with either type of GI complication and 9% in those without. The rate of serious thrombolysis-related complications was 7% in the patients with GI disease and 9% in those without.
In a separate analysis of the complete database of more than 633,000 patients, Dr. Inohara and his associates found 148 patients who had either a GI bleed or malignancy and otherwise qualified for thrombolytic therapy but did not receive this treatment. This meant that overall, in this large U.S. experience, 136 of 284 (48%) acute ischemic stroke patients who qualified for thrombolysis but had a GI complication nonetheless received thrombolysis. Further analysis showed that the patients not treated with thrombolysis had at admission an average National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale score of 11, compared with an average score of 14 among patients who received thrombolysis.
This apparent selection for thrombolytic treatment of patients with more severe strokes “may have overestimated risk in the patients with GI disease,” Dr. Inohara said.
Dr. Inohara reported receiving research funding from Boston Scientific.
SOURCE: Inohara T et al. Circulation. 2018 Nov 6;138[suppl 1], Abstract 12291.