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Hypoglycemia Exclusion Criteria for tPA Administration

When analyzing the ACLS guidelines for tPA administration with acute ischemic strokes it is essential to take a close look at the exclusion criteria for administration.  In general the exclusion cretiera refer to bleeding risks like PLT count, HTN, and recent surgery. However, one criteria has nothing to do with bleeding.

Blood Glucose <50 or >400

Why would patients with abnormal glucose levels meet the exclusion criteria for tPA administration?

Abnormal glucose levels will lead to neurological changes that can imitate neuro changes associated with acute ischemic stroke.  Therefore when a patient has low or too high glucose levels it can be hard to identify for sure that the patient is actually having a stroke and therefore you cannot with certainty expose them to the risks associated with tPA.


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But, Doesn’t the CT Scan Confirm Stroke

Not necessarily.  Ischemic stroke infarcts do not appear immediately on scans as the changes within infarcted tissue take time to reveal itself on the CT scans. This is not the case with hemorrhagic strokes obviously.

Signs of Ischemic Stroke

The signs of an ischemic stroke are listed below as stated by Beaumont.  You will notice that they are incredibly similar to the signs associated withhypoglycemia.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially involving one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
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So, the reason that you do not give tPA to suspected stroke patients with low or high blood sugars has to do with simply assuring that the patient is not simply exhibiting symptoms of low blood sugars.

Image CreditKara

Date Published - Oct 27, 2014
Date Modified - Jun 13, 2019

Jon Haws RN

Written by Jon Haws RN

Jon Haws RN began his nursing career at a Level I Trauma ICU in DFW working as a code team nurse, charge nurse, and preceptor. Frustrated with the nursing education process, Jon started NRSNG in 2014 with a desire to provide tools and confidence to nursing students around the globe. When he's not busting out content for NRSNG, Jon enjoys spending time with his two kids and wife.