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Advances in Prehospital Management of Intracerebral Hemorrhage.

BACKGROUND: Spontaneous acute intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) is associated with greater stroke-related disability and mortality. Hematoma expansion (HME), an important treatment target in acute ICH, is time-dependent, with a greater probability of hematoma growth occurring <3 hours from ICH onset.

SUMMARY: Promising treatment options to reduce HME include early intensive blood pressure (BP) reduction and the administration of hemostatic or anticoagulant reversal agents, yet large phase III clinical trials have so far failed to show overwhelming benefit for these interventions in acute ICH. Post-hoc analyses provide evidence, however, that the therapeutic benefit of such treatments is enhanced by rapid and ultra-early intervention, likely driven in large part by attenuation of early HME. Clinical trials assessing ultra-rapid treatments (<2 hours from ICH onset), including study procedures in the ambulance setting are currently underway, and demonstrate that the prehospital phase is a critical window for ICH management and an indispensable area of ICH research. Mobile stroke units, specialized ambulances equipped with imaging capabilities can provide confirmatory diagnosis and expedite treatments, as in acute ischemic stroke. Nevertheless, multiple barriers (financial, organisational, geographical among others) hinder worldwide implementation. Emerging portable technologies as well as point-of-care measures of blood biomarkers show promise as feasible adjunct tools to discriminate ICH from AIS in the field and have the potential for widespread accessibility.

KEY MESSAGES: Ultra-early interventions in acute ICH are likely necessary to mitigate the risk of HME, and as such, the prehospital setting is ideal to initiate time-sensitive ICH therapies. As such, reliable prehospital acute ICH detection is essential to provide disease-specific treatments. Overall, it is imperative that "Time is brain" become the mantra not only for ischemic stroke but for ICH as well, and that the promise of ultra-early therapies for ICH be translated into concrete benefits for patients with this devastating condition.

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