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Background and Purpose-: Following publication of concerns about the results of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) in acute stroke treatment trial, NINDS commissioned an independent committee "to address whether there is concern that eligible stroke patients may not benefit from t-PA given according to the protocol used in the trials and, whether the subgroup imbalance (in baseline stroke severity) invalidates the entire trial."

Methods-: The original NINDS trial data were reanalyzed to assess the t-PA treatment effect, the effect of the baseline imbalance in stroke severity between the treatment groups on the t-PA treatment effect, and whether subgroups of patients did not benefit from receiving t-PA.

Results-: A clinically important and statistically significant benefit of t-PA therapy was identified despite subgroup imbalances in baseline stroke severity and an increased incidence of symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage in t-PA treated patients. The adjusted t-PA to placebo odds ratio (OR) of a favorable outcome was 2.1 (95% CI, 1.5 to 2.9). Although these exploratory analyses found no statistical evidence that the t-PA treatment effect differed among patient subgroups, the study was not powered to detect subgroup treatment differences.

Conclusions-: These findings support the use of t-PA to treat patients with acute ischemic stroke within 3 hours of onset under the NINDS t-PA trial protocol. Health professionals should work collaboratively to develop guidelines to ensure appropriate use of t-PA in acute ischemic stroke patients.

(C) 2004 American Heart Association, Inc.