Systemic thrombolysis with rt-PA in patients under 40 years of age: a subgroup analysis of the Cologne Stroke Experience

Cerebrovasc Dis. 2010;30(5):514-8. doi: 10.1159/000319776. Epub 2010 Sep 22.


Background: While the application of intravenous systemic thrombolysis (IVT) with rt-PA (recombinant tissue plasminogen activator) in older patients is currently moving into the focus of epidemiological studies, only few data are available regarding the application in young patients ≤40 years. Single-center data of a thrombolysis register were analyzed with respect to safety and efficacy of the treatment of young patients.

Methods: In a retrospective subgroup analysis of 450 patients treated by IVT within a 3-hour time window, patients ≤40 years were identified (n = 20). Clinical data [age, pretherapeutic stroke severity (National Institute of Health Stroke Scale, NIHSS), OTT (onset to-treatment time), rt-PA-dose, DNT (door[-]to[-]needle time), rate of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhages] and medical history were determined. The clinical outcome was assessed by the mRS (modified Rankin Scale). The results were compared to those of patients >40 years (n = 430).

Results: Twenty patients ≤40 years (mean age 32 years) out of 450 patients (4%) were treated by IVT. The percentage of predisposing diseases and vascular risk factors was significantly lower when compared to patients >40 years (p < 0.05). In contrast, the percentage of smokers was significantly higher (55 vs. 24%; p < 0.05). In comparison to patients >40 years, OTT, DNT and NIHSS at admission were not significantly different. After 3 months, 11 of 20 young patients (55%) showed a favorable outcome (mRS 0-1) and 80% were functionally independent (mRS 0-2). In the group of patients >40 years (n = 430), the respective percentages were significantly lower [p < 0.05; 34% (mRS 0-1) and 52% (mRS 0-2), respectively]. Symptomatic intracranial hemorrhages were not observed (in patients >40 years: 4%, p < 0.05).

Conclusions: In comparison to the cohort of patients >40 years, IVT in young patients is safe and leads to a significantly better outcome after 3 months. Our data therefore encourage the use of IVT in young patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / adverse effects
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Germany
  • Humans
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Assessment
  • Stroke / drug therapy*
  • Thrombolytic Therapy / methods*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / adverse effects
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator