Conference Coverage

Conference News Roundup—European Academy of Neurology


Thrombectomy Is Feasible for the Elderly, but Entails Risks

Mechanical thrombectomy is an increasingly important therapy for acute stroke that can benefit the very old, assuming a careful selection of patients and risk assessment, according to a Portuguese study.

For several years, endovascular thrombectomy has been a way of removing larger vascular obstructions. In this procedure, the thrombus is extracted from the cerebral vessel via a catheter inserted in the groin. Numerous international studies have shown that endovascular treatment is a substantial improvement over purely drug-based therapy. The procedure is especially effective in dealing with extremely long blood clots and large obstructions of the cerebral arteries and often yields positive results. Thanks to this procedure, more than 60% of patients treated survive the stroke with no or minor subsequent impairment.

“More and more study results show the high effectiveness of mechanical removal of blood clots after a stroke. But researchers are still trying to determine the type of patient for whom this relatively new procedure is the best treatment option,” said Ary Lopes de Sousa, MD, a neurology resident at Central Lisbon Hospital Center.

Dr. de Sousa and his colleagues reviewed the treatment success of thrombectomy in more than 200 patients with anterior acute ischemic stroke and no or slight disability prior to this event. The researchers separated patients into two groups: one with individuals younger than 80 and one with individuals age 80 and older.

In the group of patients age 80 and older, hypertension and transient ischemic attacks were more frequent. The treatment did not differ between the two groups (eg, in terms of the time frame of the revascularization). But in the older group, two-thirds of the patients exhibited a poor functional outcome at three months after the treatment (ie, they were moderately or severely limited in their ability to handle their daily tasks). The number of impaired individuals in that group was substantially larger than in the younger group, where 46% faced limitations in their everyday lives. On the other hand, one-third of the patients age 80 and older were able to handle their everyday lives three months after the treatment with no or mild impairments from the stroke. No difference in mortality was observed between the two age groups.

“For patients over 80, thrombectomy appears to be riskier than for younger patients,” said Dr. de Sousa. “But one third of the patients over 80 can be fully functional in their everyday lives after the procedure, so we must identify the factors associated with this favorable outcome. This [step] will support us applying this modern procedure efficiently to those individuals among the very old who can benefit from it.”

Studies Gauge the Cost of Migraine

A pair of studies have evaluated the cost of migraine to individuals, society, and businesses. A French study looked at the socioeconomic impact of the condition. In a survey of more than 7,700 people, a representative sample of the general population, 3.8% indicated that they experienced severe migraines on at least eight days per month. “Two-thirds of those [patients] were women, and the average age of those affected was 41, meaning that migraines significantly affect people at the peak of their careers, and who have families to provide for. These regular attacks represent a serious problem as far as keeping their jobs is concerned,” said Dr. Guillaume Leiba, Pricing and Market Access Manager at Novartis in Paris. In the current study, patients with severe migraine reported missing 33 working days per year because of their condition. This absence translates into a cost to society of approximately EUR 3.8 billion. Migraine also has an impact on patients’ social environment: 14% of respondents indicated that family members had to adjust their working hours because of patients’ migraine headaches. The study also quantified the financial burden placed on migraineurs: 58% reported an average monthly cost of more than EUR 30 per month for nonreimbursed medicines. Approximately 43% spent more than EUR 50 each month on other, nonpharmaceutical therapies. Despite the high level of public and private spending associated with the condition, quality of life for migraineurs remains far from satisfactory. More than three-quarters have sleep disorders and benefit less from their free time than healthy controls.

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