Centenary of the UCT Faculty of Health Sciences

Early outcomes of thrombolysis for acute ischaemic stroke in a South African tertiary care centre

Sean Wasserman, Alan Bryer


Background. Stroke is an important cause of death and disability in sub-Saharan Africa. Recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) thrombolysis is effective in treating acute ischaemic stroke, but may not be a viable option in developing countries.
Methods. We assessed the short-term outcomes and safety of tPA for the treatment of stroke at Groote Schuur Hospital from the year 2000. Patients with a clinical diagnosis of acute stroke with onset of stroke symptoms within 4.5 hours of receiving thrombolysis were included. Exclusion criteria were based on the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) rt-PA trial protocol (upper age limit was 75 years). Primary outcomes were the proportion of patients achieving significant early neurological recovery defined as an improvement of 4 or more points on the National Institutes of Health stroke scale (NIHSS) score and functional independence defined as a modified Rankin score of 2 or less at discharge. The primary safety measures were the rates of symptomatic intracranial haemorrhage (SICH) and death.
Results. From January 2000 to February 2011 42 patients were thrombolysed, with a mean time to tPA infusion of 160 minutes (standard deviation (SD) 50; range 60 - 270). By discharge the median NIHSS score fell from 14 (interquartile range (IQR) 10.5 - 17) to 7.5 (IQR 1 - 15); 28 (66.7%) achieved significant neurological improvement, and 17 (40.5%) were functionally independent. Two patients (4.8%) suffered SICH and there were 3 (7.1%) deaths.
Conclusion. Thrombolysis in routine clinical practice in a South African setting has similar safety and early efficacy outcomes to controlled trials and open-label studies in developing and developed countries.

Authors' affiliations

Sean Wasserman, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town

Alan Bryer, Stroke Unit, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Groote Schuur Hospital and University of Cape Town

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Stroke, developing country, thrombolysis, tissue plasminogen activator

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2012;102(6):541-544.

Article History

Date submitted: 2011-11-02
Date published: 2012-05-23

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