Acute ischaemic stroke: challenges for the intensivist

M. Smith, U. Reddy, C. Robba, D. Sharma, G. Citerio

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Purpose: To provide an update about the rapidly developing changes in the critical care management of acute ischaemic stroke patients. Methods: A narrative review was conducted in five general areas of acute ischaemic stroke management: reperfusion strategies, anesthesia for endovascular thrombectomy, intensive care unit management, intracranial complications, and ethical considerations. Results: The introduction of effective reperfusion strategies, including IV thrombolysis and endovascular thrombectomy, has revolutionized the management of acute ischaemic stroke and transformed outcomes for patients. Acute therapeutic efforts are targeted to restoring blood flow to the ischaemic penumbra before irreversible tissue injury has occurred. To optimize patient outcomes, secondary insults, such as hypotension, hyperthermia, or hyperglycaemia, that can extend the penumbral area must also be prevented or corrected. The ICU management of acute ischaemic stroke patients, therefore, focuses on the optimization of systemic physiological homeostasis, management of intracranial complications, and neurological and haemodynamic monitoring after reperfusion therapies. Meticulous blood pressure management is of central importance in improving outcomes, particularly in patients that have undergone reperfusion therapies. Conclusions: While consensus guidelines are available to guide clinical decision making after acute ischaemic stroke, there is limited high-quality evidence for many of the recommended interventions. However, a bundle of medical, endovascular, and surgical strategies, when applied in a timely and consistent manner, can improve long-term stroke outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1177-1189
Number of pages13
JournalIntensive Care Medicine
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2019


  • Acute ischaemic stroke
  • Anesthesia
  • Decompressive craniectomy
  • Endovascular thrombectomy
  • Intensive care
  • Penumbra
  • Thrombolysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine


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