Objective Acute ischemic stroke due to proximal intracranial vessel occlusion is associated with poor prognosis and neurologic outcomes. Outcomes specifically in patients with stroke due to these occlusions and lower National Institutes of Health Stroke Scale (NIHSS) scores (0–7 range) have not been described previously.
Methods We retrospectively reviewed discharge outcomes (reported in our ‘Get With the Guidelines-Stroke’ database) in patients with an admission NIHSS score of 0–7 due to proximal intracranial large vessel occlusion (based on CT angiography results) who were excluded from receiving intravenous (IV) thrombolysis with recombinant tissue plasminogen activator and endovascular intra-arterial (IA) stroke interventions.
Results Among the 204 patients included in our analysis, younger age and lower admission NIHSS score (0–4 range) were strong predictors of good outcome (defined as ability to ambulate independently) at discharge whereas female sex was a predictor of poor outcome. There was no significant difference between cerebrovascular risk factors, specific sites of occlusion, or presenting symptoms and outcomes at discharge. There was great variability in functional outcomes at discharge and discharge disposition (home versus acute or subacute facility or nursing home versus death/hospice) with a trend toward worse outcomes in patients with higher (5–7 range) NIHSS scores on admission.
Conclusions Patients with acute stroke due to large vessel occlusion and low admission NIHSS scores (0–7 range) may have poor functional outcomes at discharge. These patients, if not eligible for IV thrombolysis, might benefit from IA revascularization therapies.