Introduction: The list of contraindications for IV tPA in acute ischemic stroke (AIS) is often too long and may lead to physicians opting to offer no treatment for certain strokes. An alternative treatment is proposed in cases where IV tPA is not an option due to time-window restrictions or contraindications. We compared the stroke severity, outcomes and safety of IV eptifibatide when compared with IV tPA.
Methods: Patients who presented to a community based university affiliated comprehensive stroke center from 2012-15 with AIS over a two-year period were included in the study. Those who qualified for IV tPA, and were treated, were compared with patients who only received IV eptifibatide. The initial NIH Stroke Score (NIHSS), 24-hour NIHSS, discharge NIHSS (DCNIHSS), discharge mRS (DCmRS) and symptomatic ICH rates were compared with a paired samples t-test to determine significance of difference between the means. SPSS Version 22 was used for all data analysis.
Results: A total of 864 patients presented with AIS in the evaluated time period and of those 166 met study criteria. There were 119 patients who received IV tPA alone (group A) and 47 patients received eptifibatide (group B). The mean initial NIHSS, 24-NIHSS, DCNIHSS, DCmRS and percent bleeding complications for group A were: 11.2, 10.8, 8.6, 3.1 and 6%. For group B the figures were: 6.7, 4.8, 4.3, 1.7 and 0%, respectively. Group A was compared with group B in a paired samples T-test and yielded -4.3, -6.2, -6, -1.5 (p=.0001 to .04) for initial, 24-hour, discharge NIHSS and discharge mRS, respectively. The difference between initial and discharge NIHSS between the two groups was -2.7 (p=.009), favoring IV tPA.
Conclusion: In patients who are either outside the time-window or with contraindications to IV tPA, eptifibatide may be a safe alternative and appears to be efficacious. None of the patients who were started on eptifibatide had bleeding complications and they had a statistically significant improvement in their level of disability and stroke severity at discharge. A limitation of this study is that patients in group A had significantly worse initial NIHSS compared with group B. To better evaluate the efficacy of eptifibatide, a larger, prospective study should be initiated.