Medical Treatment Failure for Symptomatic Vasospasm After Subarachnoid Hemorrhage Threatens Long-Term Outcome

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Background and Purpose- Symptomatic vasospasm is a common cause of morbidity and mortality after subarachnoid hemorrhage. We sought to identify predictors and the long-term impact of treatment failure with hypertensive therapy for symptomatic vasospasm. Methods- We performed a retrospective analysis of 1520 subarachnoid hemorrhage patients prospectively enrolled in the Columbia University SAH Outcomes Project between August 1996 and August 2012. One hundred ninety-eight symptomatic vasospasm patients were treated with vasopressors to raise arterial blood pressure, with and without volume expansion. Treatment response, defined as complete or near-complete resolution of the initial neurological deficit, was adjudicated in weekly meetings of the study team based on serial clinical examination after hypertensive treatment. Outcome was evaluated at 1 year with the modified Rankin Scale. Results- Twenty-one percent of the 198 patients who received hypertensive therapy did not respond to treatment. Treatment failure was associated with an increased risk of death or severe disability at 1 year (modified Rankin Scale score of 4-6; 62% versus 25%; P0.3 μg/L (64% versus 28%; P=0.001), aneurysm coiling (43% versus 20%; P=0.004), and involvement of >1 symptomatic vascular territory at onset (39% versus 22%; P=0.02). In multivariable analysis, treatment failure was independently associated only with troponin I elevation (adjusted odds ratio, 4.30; 95% CI, 1.69-11.09; P=0.002). Conclusions- Failure to respond to induced hypertension for symptomatic vasospasm threatens 1-year outcome. Subarachnoid hemorrhage patients with symptomatic vasospasm who have elevated initial troponin I levels, indicative of neurogenic cardiac injury, are at twice the risk of medical treatment failure. Expedited endovascular therapy should be considered in these patients.

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