Symptomatic intracranial arterial stenosis (SIAS) is very common in octo- and nonagenarians, especially in the Chinese population, and is likely the most common cause of stroke recurrence worldwide. Clinical trials demonstrate that endovascular treatment, such as stenting, may not be suitable for octogenarians with systemic diseases. Hence, less invasive methods for the octogenarian patients are urgently needed. Our previous study (unique identifier: NCT01321749) showed that repetitive bilateral arm ischemic preconditioning (BAIPC) reduced the incidence of stroke recurrence by improving cerebral perfusion (confirmed by single photon emission computed tomography and transcranial Doppler sonography) in patients younger than 80 years of age; however, the safety and effectiveness of BAIPC on stroke prevention in octo- and nonagenarians with SIAS are still unclear. The objective of this study was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of BAIPC in reducing stroke recurrence in octo- and nonagenarian patients with SIAS. Fifty-eight patients with SIAS were enrolled in this randomized controlled prospective study for 180 consecutive days. All patients enrolled in the study received standard medical management. Patients in the BAIPC group (n = 30) underwent 5 cycles consisting of bilateral arm ischemia followed by reperfusion for 5 min each twice daily. Those in the control group (n = 28) underwent sham-BAIPC twice daily. Blood pressure, heart rate, local skin status, plasma myoglobin, and plasma levels of thrombotic and inflammatory markers were documented in both groups before beginning the study and for the first 30 days. Finally, the incidences of stroke recurrence and magnetic resonance imaging during the 180 days of treatment were compared. Compared with the control, BAIPC had no adverse effects on blood pressure, heart rate, local skin integrity, or plasma myoglobin, and did not induce cerebral hemorrhage in the studied cohort. BAIPC reduced plasma high sensitive C-reactive protein, interleukin-6, plasminogen activator inhibitor-1, leukocyte count, and platelet aggregation rate and elevated plasma tissue plasminogen activator (all p < 0.01). In 180 days, 2 infarctions and 7 transient ischemic attacks were observed in the BAIPC group compared with 8 infarctions and 11 transient ischemic attacks in the sham BAIPC group (p < 0.05). BAIPC may safely inhibit stroke recurrence, protect against brain ischemia, and ameliorate plasma biomarkers of inflammation and coagulation in octo- and nonagenarians with SIAS. A multicenter trial is ongoing.
Clinical trial registration: www.clinicaltrials.gov, unique identifier: NCT01570231.