Methods: RIGHT-2 was a prospective, multicentre, paramedic-delivered, ambulance-based, sham-controlled, participant-and outcome-blinded, randomised-controlled trial of transdermal glyceryl trinitrate (GTN) in adults with ultra-acute presumed stroke in the UK. Final diagnosis (intracerebral haemorrhage, ischaemic stroke, transient ischaemic attack, mimic) was determined by the hospital investigator. This pre-specified subgroup analysis assessed the safety and efficacy of transdermal GTN (5 mg daily for 4 days) versus sham patch among stroke mimic patients. The primary outcome was the 7-level modified Rankin Scale (mRS) at 90 days.
Results: Among 1149 participants in RIGHT-2, 297 (26%) had a final diagnosis of mimic (GTN 134, sham 163). The mimic group were younger, mean age 67 (SD: 18) vs 75 (SD: 13) years, had a longer interval from symptom onset to randomisation, median 75 [95% CI: 47,126] vs 70 [95% CI:45,108] minutes, less atrial fibrillation and a lower systolic blood pressure and Face-Arm-Speech-Time tool score than the stroke group. The three most common mimic diagnoses were seizure (17%), migraine or primary headache disorder (17%) and functional disorders (14%). At 90 days, the GTN group had a better mRS score as compared to the sham group (adjusted common odds ratio 0.54; 95% confidence intervals 0.34, 0.85; p = 0.008), a difference that persisted at 365 days. There was no difference in the proportion of patients who died in hospital, were discharged to a residential care facility, or suffered a serious adverse event.
Conclusions: One-quarter of patients suspected by paramedics to have an ultra-acute stroke were subsequently diagnosed with a non-stroke condition. GTN was associated with unexplained improved functional outcome observed at 90 days and one year, a finding that may represent an undetected baseline imbalance, chance, or real efficacy. GTN was not associated with harm.
Trial registration: This trial is registered with International Standard Randomised Controlled Trials Number ISRCTN 26986053.
- Functional stroke
- Glyceryl trinitrate