• Vol. 31 No. 6, 717–721
  • 15 November 2002

Update in the Management of Stroke



Recent advances have improved the outlook for patients with stroke, Singapore’s fourth leading cause of death. Stroke unit care reduces death, dependency and institutionalisation, independent of age, gender and stroke severity. Neuroimaging is essential prior to initiation of specific therapies. While computed tomography (CT) Head remains the most widely used modality, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), particularly diffusion weighted imaging (DWI) has enhanced the positive diagnosis of ischaemic stroke. General medical measures include close monitoring, adequate oxygenation, avoidance of excessive blood pressure lowering, reduction of hyperthermia, control of hyperglycaemia, adequate nutrition, prevention of complications and early rehabilitation. Despite the risk of fatal intracranial haemorrhage, thrombolysis may improve outcomes in appropriately selected patients with ischaemic stroke. No safe and effective neuroprotectant has been found. While suboccipital craniectomy is established for large cerebellar infarcts and haemorrhage, surgical evacuation of supratentorial haemorrhage has not been shown to be beneficial. Hemicraniectomy reduces mortality after massive hemispheric ischemic stroke. Early and sustained antiplatelet use after atherothrombotic stroke reduces stroke recurrence. Stroke recurrence is also reduced by sustained warfarin use for cardioembolic stroke, carotid endarterectomy for severe symptomatic internal carotid artery stenosis, blood pressure lowering starting after the acute phase of stroke and lipid lowering. On-going clinical trails are likely to provide better treatments in the near future.

Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and a leading cause of morbidity in Singapore. The number of hospital admissions for cerebrovascular disorders has been rising dramatically over the last few years, exceeding 10,400 in 2001.

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