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Keywords:

  • acute stroke therapy;
  • African;
  • developing countries;
  • ischemic stroke;
  • sub-Saharan Africa;
  • thrombolysis

Background

Stroke is an important cause of death and disability in sub-Saharan Africa. Thrombolysis with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is the only effective therapy for acute ischaemic stroke. Essential requirements for stroke thrombolysis include availability of CT scanning and arrival at hospital within 4.5 hours of symptom onset. However, in developing countries where the prerequisites are met at certain centres, the efficacy and safety of thrombolysis have not been firmly established.

Aims

We aimed to evaluate the early outcomes and safety of stroke thrombolysis in a South African setting.

Method

We conducted a prospective observational study of all stroke patients receiving tPA for thrombolysis over the period January 2000 to February 2011. The primary outcome measure was the proportion of patients achieving significant early neurological recovery defined as an improvement of four or more points on the NIHSS score at discharge. The safety endpoint was the rate of symptomatic intracranial haemorrhage (SICH) and death.

Results

Forty-two patients received thrombolysis over the study period. Sixty-seven percent achieved significant neurological improvement. The majority of patients (53.8%) were discharged home, and by the time of discharge 17 (40.5%) were functionally independent. SICH occurred in 2 (4.8%) patients with an overall mortality rate of 7.1%.

Conclusions

Our findings indicate that the use of thrombolysis in routine clinical practice in a South African setting has similar safety and early efficacy outcomes to developed and other developing countries.