Purpose of review
Pediatric arterial ischemic stroke is relatively rare but carries a considerable impact and high risk of recurrence – especially in patients with sickle cell disease and various forms of vasculopathy. We will discuss risk factors, vascular physiology, and primary/secondary/rehabilitative therapies. Goals for future investigation and treatment are suggested.
Risk factors include chronic disease, vasculopathy, acute illness, cardiac disease, head and neck trauma, infection, and prothrombic disorders. Research has begun to implicate genetic risk factors – initially in sickle cell disease and more recently in prothrombotic disorders, moyamoya, and nitric oxide regulation. The vascular physiology of pediatric arterial ischemic stroke, especially sickle cell disease stroke, is currently undergoing study in animal models and in humans. No primary prevention therapy for pediatric arterial ischemic stroke is known. Various primary and secondary prevention therapies are used, however, in at-risk sickle cell disease patients. Aspirin, coumadin, and heparin are often initiated as secondary prevention therapies for non-sickle cell disease-associated arterial ischemic stroke, but no studies have assessed efficacy.
Pediatric arterial ischemic stroke is under-recognized and under-studied. Investigation into the hemodynamic aspects of arterial ischemic stroke, although best studied thus far in sickle cell disease, has been neglected. It is likely that enhanced study of hemodynamics and autoregulation will elucidate both new prevention opportunities and novel treatments.