The suitability of 200 consecutive patients admitted to a newly established acute stroke unit was assessed for participation in two multicentre trials currently in their pilot phase: the International Stroke Trial of aspirin and heparin, and the Multicentre Acute Stroke Trial of streptokinase versus placebo. Of the 200 patients (74 men, 126 women, mean age 71 years), 96% had cerebral CT, and 94% had a final diagnosis of cerebrovascular disease. Overall, 50% of patients presented within 6 hours and 70% within 12 hours of the onset of ictus. A total of 113 patients (56.5%) were potentially eligible for trial treatment with aspirin/heparin. Only 9 patients (4.5%) were eligible for streptokinase treatment: 50% were excluded because they presented after 6 hours; 23% had a previous stroke with clinical sequelae and 23% had severe systemic illness. Forty eight per cent of patients had more than one exclusion criterion. The potentially high enrollment rates in trials of antithrombotic agents contrast with the restricted recruitment for trials of streptokinase, emphasising the need for multiple centres to achieve useful study enrollment.
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