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Stroke as a neurological disease

Stroke is one of the biggest causes of disability worldwide, yet its neurological burden has been under-recognized because it has been classified by the WHO as a cardiovascular disease. However, with the release of the latest revision of the WHO International Classification of Disease (ICD-11), stroke has been reclassified as a neurological disease. This change not only acknowledges that neurologists treat patients with stroke and that stroke survivors must live with life-changing neurological consequences, but it is also likely to make the burden of stroke clearer and bring about improvements in stroke research funding and provision of care for patients with stroke. To mark this important moment, Nature Reviews Neurology brings you this web collection on stroke as a neurological disease. Our selection of articles address some of the latest and most exciting advances in stroke, including Reviews and commentaries written by world-leading stroke neurologists, and key advances highlighted by journal editors. The collection covers the entire spectrum of stroke, from mechanistic and translational research to prevention, acute treatment, rehabilitation and post-stroke syndromes.

Commentary

Stroke has been misplaced in the International Classification of Disease (ICD) since 1955, but is now classed as a neurological disease in the new ICD-11. The reclassification required a bureaucratic struggle between clinicians and the World Health Organization, but will bring great benefits.

Comment | | Nature Reviews Neurology

The past year saw advances in endovascular treatment for acute stroke, speech therapy for aphasia after stroke, and cardiac disease management to prevent stroke. These treatments were characterized by more intensive or more extensive effects than standard care, necessitating thoughtful translation of the clinical trial findings into routine clinical practice.

Year in Review | | Nature Reviews Neurology

In recently published guidelines on the diagnosis and treatment of cerebral venous thrombosis, the European Stroke Organization has applied a rigorous evidence-based methodology, following the GRADE system. However, the guidelines provide many weak recommendations, reflecting the fact that more high-quality evidence from multicentre observational and experimental studies is needed.

News & Views | | Nature Reviews Neurology

In patients with acute ischaemic stroke resulting from anterior circulation occlusion, endovascular therapy provides greater long-term benefits than does intravenous tissue plasminogen activator. However, further improvement of systems of care and research regarding adjunct therapies is still needed.

News & Views | | Nature Reviews Neurology

Two studies have shown no added benefit of intravenous thrombolysis in patients with acute stroke who are treated with mechanical thrombectomy. We review the importance and interpretation of these findings, compare them to the current guidelines on stroke thrombectomy, and discuss how these studies can change our daily clinical practice.

News & Views | | Nature Reviews Neurology

Reviews

The epidemiology, risk factors, causes, treatment and outcomes of intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) in young adults (aged 18–50 years) can differ markedly from those in elderly patients with ICH. Challenges in this setting include high early mortality and long-term mortality as well as long-term disability and ICH recurrence in survivors.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Neurology

The prevalence of stroke in women is predicted to increase rapidly in the near future. Yet, despite the presence of numerous female-specific risk factors for stroke, women remain under-represented in stroke clinical trials. Here, members of the Women Initiative for Stroke in Europe (WISE) group summarize new advances and future research priorities in the research of stroke in women.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Neurology

Cerebral venous thrombosis (CVT) is a prominent cause of stroke, particularly in young adults. Knowledge of this condition has greatly increased in the past two decades, primarily owing to new data from international patient registries. This Review provides an overview of the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis and treatment of CVT, with a focus on new advances in the field.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Neurology

Effective drug treatments for intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) are still lacking. However, therapies that target microglial phenotype switching might soon become available for affected patients. Here, Wang and colleagues summarize key advances in understanding of microglial function after ICH, including modulators of microglial function and interactions with other cells.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Neurology

Although our understanding of the biological mechanisms of stroke have advanced considerably in animal models, this progress has not been translated into improvements to restorative therapies following stroke in humans. Here, Nick Ward discusses the reasons behind this lack of benefit, and the prospects for understanding poststroke plasticity in humans, with a focus on the development of biomarkers that can reconcile preclinical and human studies.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Neurology

Drawing on data from the Global Burden of Disease 2013 Study, Feigin and colleagues highlight the increasing global stroke burden, which indicates deficiencies in current primary prevention strategies. The authors present a four-point plan to improve primary stroke prevention, which includes a shift in emphasis from a high-risk approach to a more comprehensive approach that targets people at all levels of cardiovascular disease risk.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Neurology

In addition to the functional impairments that can arise after stroke, about one-third of stroke survivors experience neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety or apathy. In this Review, Ferro and colleagues provide an update on the diagnosis and pathophysiology of the acute and long-term psychiatric consequences of stroke, and discuss available treatments and management strategies for these stroke-associated disorders.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Neurology

The most-established risk factors for intracerebral haemorrhage (ICH) are lifestyle-related, but several studies have reported familial aggregation of ICH. An understanding of the role of genetic risk factors in ICH could provide insight into ICH aetiopathogenesis, and improve prevention and patient-tailored management of ICH. This Review discusses the evidence for a genetic component in ICH, taking into account the strength of evidence and functional relevance to ICH for each genetic variant.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Neurology

2015 saw the publication of five randomized controlled trials of endovascular treatment for acute stroke caused by vascular occlusion, with huge implications for the future of patient management. Mokin and colleagues consider the findings of these trials in the context of their designs, in particular the criteria for patient selection, and their likely impact on future management of acute stroke.

Review Article | | Nature Reviews Neurology

Research Highlights