Mechanical ventilation in patients with acute ischemic stroke: survival and outcome at one year

Intensive Care Med. 2001 Jul;27(7):1141-6. doi: 10.1007/s001340100998.


Objective: To assess the prognosis of patients with acute ischemic stroke who require mechanical ventilation and to determine early factors influencing mortality.

Design: Prospective observational study.

Setting: Medical intensive care unit with a cerebrovascular emergency unit in a university-affiliated hospital.

Patients: Fifty-eight consecutive patients (mean age 65+/-13 years) requiring mechanical ventilation in the early course of an acute ischemic stroke.

Measurements and results: Clinical data were recorded before intubation according to a standardized procedure. Mortality and functional outcome were assessed after a 1-year follow-up. Mechanical ventilation was started within 48 h after admission in 53 patients (91.4%). The mean duration of ventilation was similar in survivors (9.7+/-9.0 days) and non-survivors (8.6+/-8.7 days). Mortality was 72.4% at 1 year. Among the 16 survivors, none were in a persistent vegetative state and 11 had a Barthel index of 60, reflecting good functional status. Bilateral absence of corneal reflex and bilateral absence of pupillary light reflex had a positive predictive value of death of 1 (95% CI 0.78-1.00 and 0.74-1.00, respectively). After Cox regression analysis, presence of stupor or coma (OR 2.6, 95% CI 1.5-5.0), bilateral absence of corneal reflex before intubation (OR 3.4, 95% CI 1.4-8.7) and presence of ischemic cardiopathy (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.4-5.5) were independent predictors of mortality.

Conclusions: Systematic withholding of endotracheal intubation in patients with AIS is not recommended. Careful and rigorous neurologic examination, including assessment of brain stem reflexes, might help to identify patients with a very high probability of death despite mechanical ventilation.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prognosis
  • Proportional Hazards Models
  • Prospective Studies
  • Respiration, Artificial*
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / mortality*
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Survival Rate
  • Treatment Outcome