Baseline Predictors of Poor Outcome in Patients Too Good to Treat With Intravenous Thrombolysis

Stroke. 2016 Dec;47(12):2986-2992. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.116.014871. Epub 2016 Nov 10.


Background and purpose: Several studies have reported poor outcomes in patients too good to treat with intravenous thrombolysis because of mild or rapidly improving symptoms. We sought to determine baseline clinical and imaging predictors of poor outcome in these patients.

Methods: Among 3950 consecutive stroke admissions (2009-2015) in our local Get With the Guidelines-Stroke database, 632 patients presented ≤4.5 hours and did not receive tissue-type plasminogen activator, with 380 of 632 (60.1%) being too good to treat. Univariate and multivariable analyses explored the clinical and imaging features associated with poor outcome (defined as not being discharged to home) in these 380 cases.

Results: Among these 380 cases, only 68% were discharged home; the other 25% to inpatient rehabilitation, 4% to a skilled nursing facility, and 3% expired or were discharged to hospice. Patients with poor outcome were older, were more often Hispanic, had more vascular risk factors, and had higher median National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale. Imaging characteristics associated with poor outcomes included large or multifocal infarction and poor collaterals. In multivariable analysis, only age, initial National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, and infarct location were independently associated with poor outcome.

Conclusions: Approximately one third of patients deemed too good for intravenous tissue-type plasminogen activator are unable to be discharged directly to home. Given the current safety profile of intravenous tissue-type plasminogen activator, our results suggest that the concept of being too good to treat should be re-examined with an emphasis on the features associated with poor outcome identified in our study. If replicated, these findings could be incorporated into tissue-type plasminogen activator decision-making algorithms.

Trial registration: NCT01282242.

Keywords: infarction; mortality; skilled nursing facility; stroke; thrombolytic therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravenous
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Female
  • Fibrinolytic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care*
  • Patient Discharge
  • Prognosis
  • Registries*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Stroke / diagnosis
  • Stroke / therapy*
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator / administration & dosage*


  • Fibrinolytic Agents
  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator

Associated data