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Quick administration of intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) after stroke improved outcomes in previous trials. We aimed to analyse combined data for individual patients to confirm the importance of rapid treatment.We pooled common data elements from six randomised placebo-controlled trials of intravenous rt-PA. Using multivariable logistic regression we assessed the relation of the interval from stroke onset to start of treatment (OTT) on favourable 3-month outcome and on the occurrence of clinically relevant parenchymal haemorrhage.Treatment was started within 360 min of onset of stroke in 2775 patients randomly allocated to rt-PA or placebo. Median age was 68 years, median baseline National Institute of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) 11, and median OTT 243 min. Odds of a favourable 3-month outcome increased as OTT decreased (p=0.005). Odds were 2.8 (95% CI 1.8-4.5) for 0-90 min, 1.6 (1.1-2.2) for 91-180 min, 1.4 (1.1-1.9) for 181-270 min, and 1.2 (0.9-1.5) for 271-360 min in favour of the rt-PA group. The hazard ratio for death adjusted for baseline NIHSS was not different from 1.0 for the 0-90, 91-180, and 181-270 min intervals; for 271-360 min it was 1.45 (1.02-2.07). Haemorrhage was seen in 82 (5.9%) rt-PA patients and 15 (1.1%) controls (p<0.0001). Haemorrhage was not associated with OTT but was with rt-PA treatment (p=0.0001) and age (p=0.0002).The sooner that rt-PA is given to stroke patients, the greater the benefit, especially if started within 90 min. Our results suggest a potential benefit beyond 3 h, but this potential might come with some risks.
View details for Web of Science ID 000220092000007
View details for PubMedID 15016487