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Minerva Anestesiologica 2009 May;75(5):245-50


language: English

Stroke in critically ill patients

Pilato F., Profice P., Dileone M., Ranieri F., Capone F., Minicuci G., Tagliente D., Florio L., Di Iorio R., Plantone D., Tonali P. A. 1, 2, Di Lazzaro V. 1, 2

1 Institute of Neurology, Catholic University, Rome, Italy; 2 Don Gnocchi Foundation, Rome, Italy


Advances in critical care medicine have led to improved survival rates among patients admitted to the Intensive Care unit (ICU), but complications experienced during admittance in an ICU may influence long-term outcome and the neurocognitive state of these patients. Coagulation disorders, glucose intolerance, diabetes, pro-inflammatory state and underlying severe pathologies are common risk factors for stroke development in ICU patients. Stroke may result in very serious consequences like motor function impairment, neglect and aphasia, but in some cases, stroke may not result in any clinical sign in acute phase. Recently, more attention has been given to this condition called “silent stroke.” “Silent stroke” could be the foundation of the development of neurocognitive impairment and vascular dementia. In ICU survivors, approximately 1/3 of patients or more will develop chronic neurocognitive impairment. With the advent of sensitive techniques for brain imaging, silent brain lesions, including brain infarct and white matter changes, have been frequently recognized. Until now, epidemiological studies in this field evaluating incidence and consequences of stroke in ICU setting are lacking, and prospective studies are required to evaluate the impact of this condition on the quality of life, neurocognitive outcome and mortality of ICU patients. We believe that when stroke occurs in critically ill patients, more attention is typically given to the underlying pathologies than stroke, and this may influence the long-term outcome. Guidelines for the early management of stroke, commonly used in Stroke Units, should be followed, even in critically ill patients in an ICU setting.

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