Author Interviews, Stroke / 19.02.2019 Interview with: Sunil A. Sheth, MD Department of Neurology McGovern Medical School at UTHealth Houston, TX 77030 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: There is no country in the world where the absolute number of people living with or died from stroke has declined between 1990 and 2013. In the US, approximately 795,000 people experience a stroke each year with nearly 90% being acute ischemic stroke (AIS), which remains the leading cause of adult disability in the US. In 2015 landmark clinical trials demonstrated that endovascular stroke treatments (EST) for patients with large vessel occlusion (LVO) leads to dramatic improvements in patient outcomes. However, in the wake of these results, stroke systems of care around the globe are now faced with the daunting task of ensuring that patients with AIS have access to appropriate screening and therapy. The evidence of benefit for endovascular stroke that emerged from these trials was derived from treatments rendered almost exclusively at high volume stroke centers, with specialized neuro-imaging, neuro-intensive care, neuro-rehabilitation and neuro-nursing. However, since the publication and adoption of these findings into guidelines, it has become well-established that the likelihood of good neurologic outcome for these patients remains dependent on minimizing delays in treatment. Even 15-minute delays in endovascular reperfusion have been associated with quantifiable decrements in clinical outcomes. As such, there has been an increase in demand for the procedure as well as calls for the dissemination of the treatment away from tertiary-care referral centers into the community, to avoid the costly delays associated with inter-hospital transfer (IHT). On the other hand, transferring endovascular stroke patients to higher volume centers has also been associated with reduced mortality. In the absence of clear data on the relative efficacy of EST in lower volume centers, this lack of clarity on the optimal distribution of endovascular stroke resources had led to considerable confusion, with stroke center certifying agencies such as The Joint Commission initially requiring physician and hospital minimal EST volume requirements for certification, and then very recently revoking and then reinstating that criterion. Given the need to structure stroke systems of care in the modern endovascular stroke era, as well as the poorly characterized effect on EST outcomes away from tertiary-care referral centers, understanding the trends in treatment patterns as well as outcomes in relation to treatment volumes and IHT is of vital importance. The study described here provides for the first time large-scale data on the utilization of the procedure as well as the finding that its outcomes are directly tied to annual volumes. (more…)
Author Interviews, Genetic Research, JAMA, Race/Ethnic Diversity, Stroke / 11.02.2019 Interview with: Sandro Marini, MD Research Fellow Jonathan Rosand Laboratory Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, MA 02114 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: The epsilon(ε) 4 allele of the Apolipoprotein E (APOE) gene increases risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH). In both diseases, it is believed to increase risk through the deposition of beta-amyloid within the brain and blood vessels, respectively. The effect of APOE ε4 on both AD and ICH risk changes across populations, for unclear reasons. In our study, we confirmed the role of APOE ε4 for ICH risk in whites and found that the risk-increasing effect of the 4 allele is demonstrable in Hispanics only when balancing out the effect of hypertension. (more…)
Author Interviews, Health Care Systems, JAMA, Stroke, University Texas / 11.02.2019 Interview with: Amrou Sarraj, MD, Associate Professor Department of Neurology McGovern Medical School The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Secondary analyses of trials showing efficacy and safety of thrombectomy within 6-8 hours of stroke onset showed that patients who were transferred to centers performing thrombectomy from another hospital had worse outcomes than patients who presented directly to the thrombectomy centers. We wanted to assess if the thrombectomy outcomes differ between transferred patients and patients directly coming to the thrombectomy centers when patients are selected with advanced perfusion imaging. We found that thrombectomy outcome rates were similar between patients who presented directly vs transferred from another hospital, including functional independence and safety outcomes.  (more…)
Author Interviews, Diabetes, JAMA, Metabolic Syndrome, Stroke / 10.02.2019 Interview with: David Spence M.D., FRCPC, FAHA Professor of Neurology and Clinical Pharmacology Director, Stroke Prevention & Atherosclerosis Research Centre, Robarts Research Institute, Western University London, ON Canada What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?  Response: The motivation for the study was the chair of the committee that advises the Ontario Drug Benefit which medications to pay for said the IRIS results were not relevant to clinical practice. This because the Insulin Resistance Intervention after Stroke (IRIS) trial reported effects of pioglitazone in patients with stroke or TIA and insulin resistance assessed by the Homeostasis Model Assessment of Insulin Resistance (HOMA-IR) score for insulin resistance.1 ( However, few clinicians measure a HOMA-iR score, so the clinical impact of that trial was limited. In this study we analyzed the effect of pioglitazone in stroke/TIA patients with prediabetes, which is commonly assessed by clinicians. Prediabetes was defined by the American Diabetes Association: a glycosylated hemoglobin (A1C) of  5.7% to <6.5% (we did not do glucose tolerance tests).  We analyzed primarily the results for patients with 80% adherence, but also did  an intention-to-treat (ITT) analysis.  The reason for focusing on patients with good adherence was that pioglitazone cannot be taken by about 10-20% of patients, because of fluid retention and weight gain (mainly due  to fluid retention).  (The reasoning was that third party payers would not need to pay for the medication in patients who do not take it.) In stroke/TIA patients with good adherence, the benefits of pioglitazone were greater than in the original IRIS trial. We found a 40% reduction of stroke/MI, a 33% reduction of stroke, and an 80% reduction of new-onset diabetes, over 5 years.  Pioglitazone also improved blood pressure, triglycerides and HDL-cholesterol. As expected, pioglitazone was somewhat less beneficial in the ITT analysis. Fluid retention can usually be managed by reducing the dose of pioglitazone; even small doses still have a beneficial effect . Also, amiloride has been shown to reduce fluid retention with pioglitazone.
  1. Kernan WN, Viscoli CM, Furie KL, Young LH, Inzucchi SE, Gorman M, Guarino PD, Lovejoy AM, Peduzzi PN, Conwit R, Brass LM, Schwartz GG, Adams HP, Jr., Berger L, Carolei A, Clark W, Coull B, Ford GA, Kleindorfer D, O'Leary JR, Parsons MW, Ringleb P, Sen S, Spence JD, Tanne D, Wang D, Winder TR and Investigators IT. Pioglitazone after Ischemic Stroke or Transient Ischemic Attack. N Engl J Med. 2016;374:1321-31. 
AHA Journals, Author Interviews, Diabetes, Stroke / 08.02.2019 Interview with: Karen C. Johnston MD Professor and Chair, Neurology School of Medicine University of Virginia What is the background for this study? Response: We know that acute ischemic stroke patient with hyperglycemia at presentation have worse outcomes. We also know if we lower the glucose too low that this is bad for ischemic brain also. T he SHINE trial addressed a world wide debate about whether intensive treatment of hyperglycemia is beneficial. We assessed the efficacy and safety of an intensive glucose control protocol with a target glucose of 80-130 mg/dL compared to a more standard protocol with a target of less than 180 mg/dL. (more…)