News Roundup

New and Noteworthy Information—March 2018


Short Stature in Children Linked to Future Stroke

Short stature at ages 7 to 13 is associated with increased risk of stroke in adulthood, according to a study published online ahead of print February 15 in Stroke. Data were examined for 311,009 schoolchildren born between 1930 and 1989. Cox proportional hazards regressions were performed to estimate hazard ratios. Among the participants, 10,412 were diagnosed with ischemic stroke, and 2,546 were diagnosed with intracerebral hemorrhage. Height at age 7 was inversely and significantly associated with ischemic stroke in both sexes and with intracerebral hemorrhage in men, but not in women. Associations were similar at older childhood ages and were stable throughout the study period. No statistically significant associations for growth from ages 7 to 13 were observed for ischemic stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage.

Gjærde LK, Truelsen TC, Baker JL. Childhood stature and growth in relation to first ischemic stroke or intracerebral hemorrhage. Stroke. 2018 Feb 15 [Epub ahead of print].

FDA Expands Treatment Window for Trevo Device

The FDA has cleared the use of the Trevo clot-retrieval device to treat certain patients with stroke as long as 24 hours after symptom onset, thus expanding its indications. The device is cleared as an initial therapy for acute ischemic stroke to reduce paralysis, speech difficulties, and other disabilities. It is to be used in addition to t-PA. Trevo was previously cleared for use in patients six hours after symptom onset. The agency evaluated data from a clinical trial comparing 107 patients treated with Trevo and medical management with 99 patients receiving medical management alone. About 48% of patients treated with Trevo were functionally independent three months after stroke, compared with 13% of patients receiving medical management. Stryker, headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan, markets the device.

Positive Views on Aging May Reduce Dementia Risk

Older adults who gain positive beliefs about old age from their culture are less likely to develop dementia, according to a study published February 7 in PLoS One. The cohort included 4,765 Health and Retirement Study participants age 60 or older who were dementia-free at baseline. In the total sample, people with positive age beliefs at baseline were significantly less likely to develop dementia, after adjusting for relevant covariates. Among people with APOE ε4, participants with positive age beliefs were 49.8% less likely to develop dementia than people with negative age beliefs. The results of this study suggest that positive age beliefs, which are modifiable and reduce stress, can be protective, even for older individuals at high risk of dementia, said the investigators.

Levy BR, Slade MD, Pietrzak RH, Ferrucci L. Positive age beliefs protect against dementia even among elders with high-risk gene. PLoS One. 2018 Feb 7;13(2):e0191004.

Should Women Stop MS Treatment During Pregnancy?

Natalizumab exposure for as long as 12 weeks of gestation increases the risk of spontaneous abortion, compared with exposure to injectable treatments or no treatment, in women with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study published online ahead of print February 7 in Neurology. Data for all pregnancies occurring between 2009 and 2015 in patients with MS treated with natalizumab were collected and compared with data for pregnancies in untreated patients and patients treated with injectable immunomodulatory agents. A total of 92 pregnancies were tracked in 83 women. In the multivariable analysis, natalizumab exposure was associated with spontaneous abortion. The rate of spontaneous abortion was within the estimates for the general population, however, as was the rate of major congenital anomalies.

Portaccio E, Annovazzi P, Ghezzi A, et al. Pregnancy decision-making in women with multiple sclerosis treated with natalizumab: I: Fetal risks. Neurology. 2018 Feb 7 [Epub ahead of print].

Walking Ability After Stroke Improves With Arm Exercise

Arm exercise may improve walking ability after stroke, according to a study published online ahead of print December 6, 2017, in the Journal of Neurophysiology. Researchers worked with a group of older adults who had had a stroke between seven months and 17 years before the study. Participants underwent three 30-minute, moderate-intensity arm cycling training sessions each week for five weeks. Bilateral soleus stretch reflexes were elicited at rest and during 1-Hz arm cycling. Investigators measured physical abilities before and after arm training using several standardized scales and tests of physical function. Performance significantly improved on all walking tests and improved as much as 28% on the Timed Up and Go test. Several subjects had less tightness in their muscles after completing the arm cycling trial.

Kaupp C, Pearcey GE, Klarner T, et al. Rhythmic arm cycling training improves walking and neurophysiological integrity in chronic stroke-the arms can give legs a helping hand in rehabilitation. J Neurophysiol. 2017 Dec 6 [Epub ahead of print].

CSF May Indicate Parkinson’s Disease Phenotype

Lower CSF alpha-synuclein level is associated with diagnosis and motor phenotype in moderate and advanced Parkinson’s disease, according to a study published in the February issue of Movement Disorders. Researchers analyzed data from BioFIND, a cross-sectional, observational study that examines clinical and biomarker characteristics in moderate and advanced Parkinson’s disease and matched healthy controls. Investigators compared alpha-synuclein concentrations across diagnosis, biofluids, and CSF biomarkers. Correlations of CSF biomarkers and Movement Disorders Society Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale, motor phenotype, Montreal Cognitive Assessment, and REM sleep behavior disorder questionnaire scores in Parkinson’s disease were examined. CSF alpha-synuclein level was lower in Parkinson’s disease versus controls. Plasma and saliva alpha-synuclein levels did not differ between Parkinson’s disease and controls, and alpha-synuclein did not significantly correlate among biofluids.

Goldman JG, Andrews H, Amara A, et al. Cerebrospinal fluid, plasma, and saliva in the BioFIND study: relationships among biomarkers and Parkinson’s disease features. Mov Disord. 2018;33(2):282-288.

Social Interaction May Improve Quality of Life in Dementia

Increasing the amount of social interaction for people with dementia living in care homes to one hour a week improves quality of life when combined with personalized care, according to a study published February 6 in PLoS Med. In all, 847 people with dementia in 69 care homes were included in this study, which compared a psychosocial intervention plus antipsychotic treatment review with standard treatment using an intention-to-treat analysis. The primary outcome was quality of life. Staff were trained in person-centered care, social interaction, and education in antipsychotic medications. A total of 553 participants completed the nine-month randomized controlled trial. The intervention significantly improved quality of life, agitation, and overall neuropsychiatric symptoms. Benefits were greatest in people with moderately severe dementia.

Ballard C, Corbett A, Orrell M, et al. Impact of person-centred care training and person-centred activities on quality of life, agitation, and antipsychotic use in people with dementia living in nursing homes: a cluster-randomised controlled trial. PLoS Med. 2018 Feb 6;15(2):e1002500.

Adjunctive Cetirizine Reduces Relapses in Neuromyelitis Optica

In patients with neuromyelitis optica, adding cetirizine to standard therapy is safe and well tolerated and may reduce relapses, according to a study published online ahead of print February 2 in Neurology Neuroimmunology & Neuroinflammation. This pilot, open-label, add-on trial of cetirizine followed 16 patients with neuromyelitis optica taking 10 mg/day of oral cetirizine for one year in addition to their usual treatment. The primary end point was the annualized relapse rate while on the same disease-modifying therapy before starting cetirizine, compared with that while taking cetirizine. Participants were monitored for new neurologic episodes and potential adverse events related to the study drug. Annualized relapse rate was 0.4 before cetirizine treatment and 0.1 afterward. Cetirizine did not affect participants’ Expanded Disability Status Scale scores.

Katz Sand I, Fabian MT, Telford R, et al. Open-label, add-on trial of cetirizine for neuromyelitis optica. Neurol Neuroimmunol Neuroinflamm. 2018 Feb 2 [Epub ahead of print].

Stroke Risk Factors Specific to Women Identified

Investigators have identified stroke risk factors specific to women, according to a study published online ahead of print February 8 in Stroke. A literature review found risk factors in the three main categories of endogenous hormones, exogenous hormones, and pregnancy-related exposures. These factors include early age of menarche, early age at menopause, low levels of dehydroepiandrosterone, and taking oral estrogen or combined oral contraceptives. The risk factors are common, and not all women who have one or more of them will have a stroke. Clinicians should consider history of pregnancy complications, including gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, or hypertension during or immediately following pregnancy, when evaluating a patient for stroke risk, said the investigators. These women should be monitored carefully and told that they are at higher risk, they added.

Demel SL, Kittner S, Ley SH, et al. Stroke risk factors unique to women. Stroke. 2018 Feb 8 [Epub ahead of print].

FDA Clears Embrace for Monitoring Seizure Activity

The FDA has cleared the Embrace smart watch for detecting generalized tonic-clonic seizures. The device uses advanced machine learning and measures multiple indicators, including electrodermal activity. It also sends alerts to summon caregivers when it detects seizures. In a multisite clinical study, 135 patients with epilepsy were admitted to epilepsy monitoring units for continuous monitoring with video-EEG while they wore the device. A total of 6,530 hours of data were recorded over 272 days, including data for 40 generalized tonic-clonic seizures. The device’s algorithm detected 100% of the seizures. The trial used the gold standard of defining seizures as those clinically labelled by at least two out of three independent epileptologists, who examined the video-EEG data without seeing any data used by Embrace. The Embrace watch was approved in Europe in April 2017 as a medical device for seizure monitoring and alert. Empatica, which markets the watch, is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

FDA Approves Glatopa for Relapsing Forms of MS

The FDA has approved Glatopa (glatiramer acetate injection) 40 mg/mL, as a thrice-weekly generic treatment option for relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS). Doses should be administered at 48-hour intervals. The treatment is intended to be fully substitutable for Copaxone. A 20-mg/mL formulation of the drug has been available since June 2015. Glatopa is contraindicated in patients with known hypersensitivity to glatiramer acetate or mannitol. The most common adverse reactions with glatiramer acetate injection 40 mg/mL versus placebo are injection-site reactions such as erythema (22% vs 2%). The most common side effects of glatiramer acetate injection 20 mg/mL versus placebo are erythema, vasodilatation, rash, dyspnea, and chest pain. Sandoz, which markets Glatopa, is headquartered in Holzkirchen, Germany.

Kimberly Williams

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