Treatment or prevention of complications of acute ischemic stroke

L J Kappelle, H B Van Der Worp
Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports 2004, 4 (1): 36-41
Both neurologic and medical complications influence outcome after stroke. Space-occupying supratentorial infarcts can cause transtentorial or uncal herniation, which leads to death. Treatments aimed at reducing intracranial pressure in patients with such infarcts are of unproven value. Mass-producing cerebellar infarction may lead to brainstem compression and obstructive hydrocephalus. These lesions often are treated surgically. Although anticonvulsants are not indicated for prophylaxis, the occurrence of epileptic seizures mandates treatment to prevent recurrences. Depression is common in the acute stage of stroke, but is probably not more prevalent after stroke than after myocardial infarction. Although dysphagia is common, it usually is a transient problem. Patients with a decrease of consciousness or brainstem dysfunction usually need tube feeding for a certain period of time. Medical complications, such as fever, infections, hyperglycemia, cardiac disorders, pressure sores, and deep venous thrombosis, are associated with a poor prognosis and should be treated as early as possible. Measures to prevent these complications are part of general care. Hypertension is very common during the week after stroke and should be treated only in case of extremely high values or malignant hypertension. A multidisciplinary approach in the stroke unit is necessary to prevent and manage complications in the acute phase of stroke.

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