Intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) and arterial endovascular therapy (ET) rapidly restore cerebral perfusion in eligible patients who had an acute ischaemic stroke (AIS). It is unknown whether patients who had an AIS with premorbid cardiac disease respond differently to reperfusion therapies than those without. These patients may have risk factors that worsen outcomes or may represent those who would most benefit from reperfusion therapy.
To determine whether patients who had an AIS with the most frequently encountered pre-existing cardiac conditions, atrial fibrillation (AF), heart failure (HF), left ventricular assist devices (LVADs), or taking anticoagulation for cardiac indications, are at increased risk for poor outcome, such as symptomatic intracranial haemorrhage (sICH), after reperfusion therapy.
Although AF is an independent risk factor for poor poststroke outcomes, intravenous rtPA is not associated with increased risk of sICH for those not on anticoagulants. Likewise, HF is independently associated with mortality post stroke, yet these patients benefit from reperfusion therapies without increased rates of sICH. Patients with LVADs or who are on anticoagulation should not be given IV rtPA; however, ET remains a viable option in those who meet criteria, even patients with LVAD.
There is no evidence of an increased risk for sICH after intravenous rtPA or ET for those with AF or HF. Intravenous rtPA should not be given to patients on anticoagulation or with LVADs, but ET should be offered to them when eligible. Whenever possible, future AIS reperfusion research should include patients with premorbid cardiac disease as they are frequently excluded, representing a gap in evidence.

© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.