Patient refusal of thrombolytic therapy for suspected acute ischemic stroke

F. S. Vahidy, M. H. Rahbar, A. P. Lal, J. C. Grotta, S. I. Savitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine factors associated with patients refusing IV t-PA for suspected acute ischemic stroke (AIS), and to compare the outcomes of patients who refused t-PA (RT) with those treated with t-PA. Methods: Patients who were treated with and refused t-PA at our stroke center were identified retrospectively. Demographics, clinical presentation, and outcome measures were collected and compared. Clinical outcome was defined as excellent (mRS: 0-1), good (mRS: 0-2), and poor (mRS: 3-6). Results: Over 7·5 years, 30 (4·2%) patients refused t-PA. There were no demographic differences between the treated and RT groups. The rate of RT decreased over time (OR 0·63, 95% CI 0·50-0·79). Factors associated with refusal included a later symptom onset to emergency department presentation time (OR 1·02, 95% CI 1·01-1·03), lower NIHSS (OR 1·11, 95% CI 1·03-1·18), a higher proportion of stroke mimics (OR 17·61, 95% CI 6·20-50·02) and shorter hospital stay (OR 1·32, 95% CI 1·09-1·61). Among patients who were subsequently diagnosed with ischemic stroke, only length of stay was significantly shorter for refusal patients (OR 1·37, 95% CI 1·06-1·78). After controlling for mild strokes and stroke mimics, clinical outcome was not different between the groups (OR 1·61, 95% CI 0·69-3·73). Conclusion: The incidence of patients refusing t-PA has decreased over time, yet it may be a cause for t-PA under-utilization. Patients with milder symptoms were more likely to refuse t-PA. Refusal patients presented later to the hospital and had shorter hospital stays. One out of six refusal patients (16·6%) had a stroke mimic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)882-886
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Journal of Stroke
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015


  • Acute stroke therapy
  • Ischemic stroke
  • Refusal
  • Stroke
  • rtPA
  • tPA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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