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Case 1: Management of Acute Thrombotic Cerebrovascular Accident Post Recombinant Tissue Plasminogen Activator Therapy

A 59-year-old Hispanic man presented with right upper and lower extremity weakness, associated with facial drop and slurred speech starting 2 hours before the presentation. He denied visual disturbance, headache, chest pain, palpitations, dyspnea, dysphagia, fever, dizziness, loss of consciousness, bowel or urinary incontinence, or trauma. His medical history was significant for uncontrolled type 2 diabetes mellitus, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and benign prostatic hypertrophy. Social history included cigarette smoking (1 pack per day for 20 years) and alcohol intake of 3 to 4 beers daily. Family history was not significant, and he did not remember his medications. In the emergency department, his vital signs were stable. His physical examination was remarkable for right-sided facial droop, dysarthria, and right-sided hemiplegia. The rest of the examination findings were insignificant. His National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) score was calculated as 7. Initial CT angiogram of head and neck reported no acute intracranial findings. The neurology team was consulted, and intravenous recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) was administered along with high-intensity statin therapy. The patient was admitted to the intensive care unit where his hemodynamics were monitored for 24 hours and later transferred to the telemetry unit. MRI of the head revealed an acute 1.7-cm infarct of the left periventricular white matter and posterior left basal ganglia. How would you manage this case?

Case Review

This case scenario presents a patient with acute ischemic cerebrovascular accident (CVA) requiring intravenous t-PA. Diagnosis was based on clinical neurologic symptoms and an NIHSS score of 7 and was later confirmed by neuroimaging. He had multiple comorbidities, including hypertension, diabetes, dyslipidemia, and smoking history, which put him at a higher risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Because his symptoms started within 4.5 hours of presentation, he was deemed to be a candidate for thrombolytics. The eligibility time line is estimated either by self-report or last witness of baseline status.

Case Discussion

Ischemic strokes are caused by an obstruction of a blood vessel, which irrigates the brain mainly secondary to the development of atherosclerotic changes, leading to cerebral thrombosis and embolism. Diagnosis is made based on presenting symptoms and CT/MRI of the head, and the treatment is focused on cerebral reperfusion based on eligibility criteria and timing of presentation.

Clinical Symptoms

Symptoms include alteration of sensorium, numbness, decreased motor strength, facial drop, dysarthria, ataxia, visual disturbance, dizziness, and headache.

Management

The main goal of thrombotic stroke management is restoration of blood supply to the brain using intravenous thrombolytics. Ensuring a stable airway, breathing, and circulation should be the first step, followed by focused clinical history and neurologic assessment. Intravenous (IV) thrombolytics are indicated within 3 hours of symptom onset with no contraindications. Treatment with t-PA between 3.5 and 4 hours ...

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