Woman testing her blood sugar level

Keeping close tabs on temperature and glucose (blood sugar) could improve the recovery of stroke patients, according to research presented at the Nursing Symposium of the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2016.

After an Australian trial showed that 90-day outcomes are better when nurses strictly monitor and treat fever or elevated blood sugar during stroke patients’ initial hospitalizations, U.S. researchers assessed nursing and medical practices at five stroke centers.

During the first five days of hospitalization of 235 patients (87 percent with clot-caused strokes and 13 percent with brain bleeds), researchers found:

  • 39 percent of patients never had their temperature checked in the emergency department.
  • 10 percent of patients ran a fever higher than 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (which is a high fever by U.S. standards) for more than four hours and 8 percent for more than 8 hours.
  • 27 percent of patients ran a fever higher than 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit (European/Australian standards of high fever) for more than four hours.
  • One-third of patients had high blood sugar (more than 180 mg/dL) for more than four hours during their hospitalization.
  • Patients with normal blood sugar and those who had their temperatures controlled to less than 99.5 degrees Fahrenheit were significantly more likely to be discharged with little disability.

The importance of moving fast to treat stroke patients with with clot busting drugs or mechanical clot removers  may have overshadowed the importance of also paying attention to the basics, researchers said Given the time-sensitive ability of the brain to recover after stroke, ignoring temperature and glucose levels for even short time may have detrimental effects, researchers said.