Mechanical ventilation in patients with acute ischaemic stroke: from pathophysiology to clinical practice

Chiara Robba, Giulia Bonatti, Denise Battaglini, Patricia R.M. Rocco, Paolo Pelosi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Most patients with ischaemic stroke are managed on the ward or in specialty stroke units, but a significant number requires higher-acuity care and, consequently, admission to the intensive care unit. Mechanical ventilation is frequently performed in these patients due to swallowing dysfunction and airway or respiratory system compromise. Experimental studies have focused on stroke-induced immunosuppression and brain-lung crosstalk, leading to increased pulmonary damage and inflammation, as well as reduced alveolar macrophage phagocytic capability, which may increase the risk of infection. Pulmonary complications, such as respiratory failure, pneumonia, pleural effusions, acute respiratory distress syndrome, lung oedema, and pulmonary embolism from venous thromboembolism, are common and found to be among the major causes of death in this group of patients. Furthermore, over the past two decades, tracheostomy use has increased among stroke patients, who can have unique indications for this procedure-depending on the location and type of stroke-when compared to the general population. However, the optimal mechanical ventilator strategy remains unclear in this population. Although a high tidal volume (VT) strategy has been used for many years, the latest evidence suggests that a protective ventilatory strategy (VT = 6-8 mL/kg predicted body weight, positive end-expiratory pressure and rescue recruitment manoeuvres) may also have a role in brain-damaged patients, including those with stroke. The aim of this narrative review is to explore the pathophysiology of brain-lung interactions after acute ischaemic stroke and the management of mechanical ventilation in these patients.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
JournalCritical care (London, England)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2 2019


  • Brain injury
  • Brain-lung crosstalk
  • Intensive care unit
  • Mechanical ventilation
  • Stroke

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Critical Care and Intensive Care Medicine

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