Treating Patients With ‘Wake-Up’ Stroke: The Experience of the AbESTT-II Trial

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Background and Purpose—

Approximately 10% to 20% of patients with a new stroke have symptoms present on awakening (wake-up stroke), but these persons are not treated with interventions to restore perfusion because the time of onset is not known. We elected to test the safety and possible efficacy of abciximab in treatment of enrolled subjects with wake-up stroke.


Abciximab in Emergency Stroke Treatment Trial-II (AbESTT-II) tested the usefulness of abciximab in improving outcomes after acute ischemic stroke and it prospectively tested an intervention in subjects that awakened with their stroke. We compared the outcomes among the subjects in the wake-up group with the other subjects in the trial.


Of the 801 subjects randomized in the trial, 43 (22 abciximab and 21 placebo) had wake-up strokes. Those with wake-up strokes had similar baseline characteristics as the other subjects except for a higher rate of a new stroke found on CT. Recruitment of patients into the wake-up group was halted early because of the rate of bleeding with abciximab exceeded the prespecified safety margins (3 of 22 [13.6%]) within 5 days or at discharge versus 15 of 375 (4.0%) for the nonwake-up group (P=0.07). Favorable outcomes at 3 months, as defined by scores on the modified Rankin Scale, among the wake-up group (4 of 43 [9.3%]) were worse than the nonwake-up group (221 of 758 [29.2%]; P=0.005).


Although the baseline characteristics of the wake-up group of subjects were similar to those of persons enrolled in the nonwake-up group, their outcomes were much poorer. Patients with wake-up stroke may not tolerate reperfusion therapies even when started within a short time of awakening.

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