Hypervolemic Hemodilution in Acute Ischemic Stroke: The Multicenter Austrian Hemodilution Stroke Trial (MAHST)

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Background and Purpose

Experimental studies suggest a beneficial effect of hemodilution on acute ischemic stroke. This was not proven by previous multicenter trials in the clinical setting. Various reasons have been suggested for the failure of these studies, which we attempted to consider in the Multicenter Austrian Hemodilution Stroke Trial (MAHST).


MAHST is a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of hypervolemic hemodilution (HHD) within 6 hours of a clinically first ischemic stroke localized in the middle cerebral artery territory. The treatment consisted of 10% hydroxyethyl starch 200/0.5 (HES) and was tested against pure rehydration with Ringer's lactate over a period of 5 days. Our primary outcome measure was clinical improvement within 7 days as measured by the Graded Neurologic Scale (GNS). We performed an adaptive interim analysis to reevaluate the study goal after entering half of the projected number of patients (n=200). At least 600 patients per group would have been required for significant results, and therefore we decided to terminate the trial.


Ninety-eight patients received HHD and 102 patients placebo. The baseline characteristics were comparable between both groups. In the HHD group the absolute reduction of the hematocrit was 2.5% on day 2 with a maximum of 3.7% on day 5, which compares with a reduction in the placebo group of 1% and 1.9%, respectively. Intention-to-treat analysis showed no significant difference of the change of the GNS scores between HHD-treated (median, [horizontal bar]8.5; 95% confidence interval, [horizontal bar]14.2 to [horizontal bar]4.0) and placebo-treated patients (median, [horizontal bar]6.0; 95% confidence interval, [horizontal bar]11.0 to 0.0) on day 7, and GNS scores remained similar in both treatment groups throughout the trial. At 3 months, slightly more HHD patients showed complete independence on the Barthel Index (28 versus 24), and fewer HHD than placebo patients had died (13 versus 17), but these differences were not statistically significant. HHD treatment was not associated with any specific adverse event.


Mild HHD is safe but failed to demonstrate a significant beneficial effect over the pure rehydration regimen in patients with acute ischemic stroke. (Stroke. 1998;29:743-749.)

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