Context: Little is known regarding outcomes after intravenous tissue-type plasminogen activator (IV tPA) therapy for acute ischemic stroke outside a trial setting.
Objective: To assess the rate of IV tPA use, the incidence of symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH), and in-hospital patient outcomes throughout a large urban community.
Design: Historical prospective cohort study conducted from July 1997 through June 1998.
Setting: Twenty-nine hospitals in the Cleveland, Ohio, metropolitan area.
Patients: A total of 3948 patients admitted to a study hospital with a primary diagnosis of ischemic stroke (International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision, Clinical Modification code 434 or 436).
Main outcome measures: Rate of IV tPA use and occurrence of symptomatic ICH among patients treated with tPA; proportion of patients receiving tPA whose treatment deviated from national guidelines; in-hospital mortality among patients receiving tPA compared with that among ischemic stroke patients not receiving tPA and with mortality predicted by a model.
Results: Seventy patients (1.8%) admitted with ischemic stroke received IV tPA. Of those, 11 patients (15.7%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 8.1%-26.4%) had a symptomatic ICH (of which 6 were fatal) and 50% (95% CI, 37.8%-62.2%) had deviations from national treatment guidelines. In-hospital mortality was significantly higher among patients treated with tPA (15.7%) compared with patients not receiving tPA (5.1%, P<.001) and compared with the model's prediction (7.9%; P<.006).
Conclusions: A small proportion of patients admitted with acute ischemic stroke in Cleveland received tPA; they experienced a high rate of ICH. Cleveland community experience with tPA for acute ischemic stroke may differ from that reported in clinical trials.