Background: Intravenous recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator (rt-PA) administration improves outcomes in acute ischemic stroke. However, young patients (<40 years old) presenting with stroke symptoms may experience delays in treatment due to misdiagnosis or a reluctance to treat since they do not fit the profile of a typical stroke patient.
Methods: We analyzed data from the large national Get With The Guidelines–Stroke registry for acute ischemic stroke patients hospitalized between January 2009 and September 2015. Multivariable models with generalized estimating equations (GEE) were used to test for differences between younger (age 18-40) and older (age > 40) acute ischemic stroke patients, controlling for patient and hospital characteristics including stroke severity.
Results: Of 1,320,965 AIS patients admitted to participating hospitals, 2.3% (30,448) were aged 18-40. Among these patients, 12.5% received rt-PA versus 8.8% of those aged >40 (p<0.001). Of patients arriving within 3.5 hours of symptom onset without contraindications, 68.7% of younger patients received IV rt-PA versus 63.3% of older patients (adjusted OR [aOR] 1.30, 95% CI 1.21 to 1.40), without evidence that age-related differences varied by sex (interaction p-value 0.25). Odds ratios of achieving target door-to-CT times and door-to-needle (DTN) times, and outcomes of rtPA-treated patients, are shown in the Table.
Conclusions: Young acute ischemic stroke patients did not receive rt-PA treatment at lower rates than older patients. Outcomes were better and the rate of symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage was lower in the young patients. However, younger patients had significantly longer door-to-CT and DTN times, providing an opportunity to improve the care of these patients.