Background and purpose: The European Cooperative Acute Stroke Study (ECASS) III extended the thrombolysis time window for patients with stroke from 3 to 4.5 hours after symptom onset. We investigated the effect of the extended thrombolysis time window on the proportion of recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator-treated stroke patients and on the time of treatment initiation after hospital arrival.
Methods: The present study was based on a prospective database of 93 hospitals of the Stroke Register of Northwestern Germany, which included 91 805 patients with ischemic stroke admitted between January 2007 and December 2009. Main outcome measures were the use of recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator among patients with stroke and the door-to-needle time before and after the publication of ECASS III in September 2008 and subsequent changes of the German guidelines in May 2009.
Results: Overall, 9262 patients (10.1%) were treated with recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator. The proportion of thrombolyzed patients increased from 8.6% in 2007 to 11.7% in 2009. This increase was pronounced for patients admitted between 3 and 6 hours after symptom onset after the third quarter of 2008 (OR, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.24 to 2.85) and after the second and third quarters of 2009 (OR, 2.50; 95% CI, 1.69 to 3.69 and OR, 3.02; 95% CI, 2.07 to 4.41) compared with the first half year 2007. The proportion of patients with stroke with a door-to-needle time<60 minutes increased after publication of ECASS III (OR, 1.49; 95% CI, 1.37 to 1.63).
Conclusions: Results of ECASS III were rapidly implemented in routine stroke care. Concerns of a delay in recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator treatment initiation after the extension of the thrombolysis time window were not confirmed.