Quality of Life in Physical, Social, and Cognitive Domains Improves With Endovascular Therapy in the DEFUSE 3 Trial

Stroke. 2021 Apr;52(4):1185-1191. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.120.031490. Epub 2021 Feb 18.


Background and purpose: The DEFUSE 3 (Endovascular Therapy Following Imaging Evaluation for Ischemic Stroke 3) randomized clinical trial demonstrated the efficacy of endovascular therapy in treating ischemic stroke 6 to 16 hours after onset, resulting in better functional outcomes than standard medical therapy alone. The objective of this secondary analysis is to analyze the effect of late-window endovascular treatment of ischemic stroke on quality of life (QoL) outcomes.

Methods: Patients (n=182) who presented between 6 and 16 hours after they were last known to be well with acute anterior circulation ischemic stroke were randomized to endovascular thrombectomy plus standard medical therapy or standard medical therapy alone and followed-up through 90 days poststroke. QoL at day 90 was assessed with the QoL in Neurological Disorders measurement tool.

Results: Of the 146 subjects alive at day 90, 136 (95%) filled out QoL in Neurological Disorders short forms. Patients treated with endovascular therapy had better QoL scores in each domain: mobility, social participation, cognitive function, and depression (P<0.01 for all). Variables other than endovascular therapy that were independently associated with better QoL included lower baseline National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale, younger age, and male sex. The degree to which the modified Rankin Scale captures differences in QoL between patients varied by domain; the modified Rankin Scale score accounted for a high proportion of the variability in mobility (Rs2=0.82), a moderate proportion in social participation (Rs2=0.62), and a low proportion in cognition (Rs2=0.31) and depression (Rs2=0.19).

Conclusions: Patients treated with endovascular therapy 6 to 16 hours after stroke have better QoL than patients treated with medical therapy alone, including better mobility, more social participation, superior cognition, and less depression. The modified Rankin Scale fails to capture patients' outcomes in cognition and depression, which should therefore be assessed with dedicated QoL tools. Registration: URL: https://www.clinicaltrials.gov; Unique identifier: NCT02586415.

Keywords: cognitive dysfunction; depression; endovascular procedures; ischemic stroke; quality of life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02586415