News Roundup

New and Noteworthy Information—October 2018


CPAP After Stroke May Improve Function

Treating sleep apnea after a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) may improve speech impairment, neurologic symptoms, walking, and physical function, according to a study published August 15 in the Journal of the American Heart Association. To examine whether continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) improves clinical outcomes among patients with stroke or TIA who have obstructive sleep apnea, researchers analyzed data from a trial that included 252 patients with stroke or TIA. Participants were randomized to intervention groups that received polysomnography soon after the stroke or TIA or to a control group. Among the 81 patients in the intervention groups with sleep apnea, more than 70% used CPAP during approximately one year of follow-up. In intention-to-treat analyses, changes in NIH Stroke Scale (NIHSS) and modified Rankin Scale (mRS) scores were similar across groups. In as-treated analyses among patients with sleep apnea, CPAP use was associated with improved NIHSS and mRS scores. In addition, 59% of intervention patients with sleep apnea had a final NIHSS score of 0 or 1 versus 38% of controls with sleep apnea.

Bravata DM, Sico J, Fragoso CAV, et al. Diagnosing and treating sleep apnea in patients with acute cerebrovascular disease. J Am Heart Assoc. 2018;7:e008841.

Intervention Reduces Cognitive Decline in Blacks With MCI

Among black patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), a behavioral intervention that aims to increase social, cognitive, and physical activity reduces the risk of memory decline, compared with supportive therapy, according to a study published online ahead of print September 10 in JAMA Neurology. Between June 2011 and October 2014, researchers enrolled 221 black participants with MCI (mean age, 75.8; 79% women) into a clinical trial. Participants were randomized to behavioral activation or supportive therapy (ie, an attention control treatment). The primary outcome was a decline of six or more recalled words on the total recall score of the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised at six, 12, 18, and 24 months. The two-year incidence of memory decline was lower in the behavioral activation group than in the supportive therapy group (1.2% vs 9.3%). Behavioral activation reduced the risk of cognitive decline by 88%, compared with supportive therapy.

Rovner BW, Casten RJ, Hegel MT, Leiby B. Preventing cognitive decline in black individuals with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Neurol. 2018 Sep 10 [Epub ahead of print].

Medical Marijuana May Treat Nerve Pain

Among patients with neuropathic pain, sublingual tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) significantly reduces pain versus placebo, according to a randomized, double-blind study published online ahead of print September 5 in Neurology. The trial included 15 men with chronic radicular nerve pain (average age, 33). Before and one hour after treatment with THC or placebo oil, participants rated their pain levels on a scale from zero to 100. At least one week later, they received the other treatment. The average pain level before treatment was 53. After taking THC, participants’ average pain level was 35, compared with an average pain level of 43 after taking placebo. Functional MRI showed that the drug’s analgesic effect correlated with reduced functional connectivity between brain areas involved in emotion and pain processing.

Weizman L, Dayan L, Brill S, et al. Cannabis analgesia in chronic neuropathic pain is associated with altered brain connectivity. Neurology. 2018 Sep 5 [Epub ahead of print].

Next Article: