Background and Purpose — The use of intravenous thrombolysis is associated with improved clinical outcomes. Whether thrombolysis is associated with reduced incidence of poststroke dementia remains uncertain. We sought to estimate if the use of thrombolysis following first-ever ischemic stroke was associated with a reduced rate of incident dementia using a pragmatic observational design.
Methods — We included first-ever ischemic stroke patients from the Ontario Stroke Registry who had not previously been diagnosed with dementia. The primary outcome was incident dementia ascertained by a validated diagnostic algorithm. We employed inverse probability of treatment-weighted Cox proportional hazard models to estimate the cause-specific hazard ratio for the association of thrombolysis and incident dementia at 1 and 5 years following stroke.
Results — From July 2003 to March 2013, 7072 patients with ischemic stroke were included, 3276 (46.3%) were female and mean age was 71.0 (SD, 12.8) years. Overall, 38.2% of the cohort (n=2705) received thrombolysis, 77.2% (n=2087) of which was administered within 3 hours of stroke onset. In the first year following stroke, thrombolysis administration was associated with a 24% relative reduction in the rate of developing dementia (cause-specific hazard ratio, 0.76 [95% CI, 0.58-0.97]). This association remained significant at 5 years (cause-specific hazard ratio, 0.79 [95% CI, 0.66-0.91]) and at the end of follow-up (median 6.3 years; cause-specific hazard ratio, 0.79 [95% CI, 0.68-0.89]).
Conclusions — Thrombolysis administration following first-ever ischemic stroke was independently associated with a reduced rate of dementia. Incident dementia should be considered as a relevant outcome when evaluating risk/benefit of thrombolysis in ischemic stroke patients.