Nicotine replacement therapy in aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage

Nicotine replacement therapy in aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage

Smoking prevalence is twice as high among patients admitted to hospital because of the acute condition of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage (aSAH) as in the general population.

Despite vasoactive properties, administration of NRT among active smokers with acute SAH appeared to be safe, with similar rates of vasospasm and DCI, and a slightly higher rate of seizures. The association of NRT with lower mortality could be due to chance, uncontrolled factors, or a neuroprotective effect of nicotine in active smokers hospitalized with SAH, and should be tested prospectively 1).

Smoking was also associated with paradoxical superior outcomes on some measures, and future research to confirm and further understand the basis of this relationship is needed 2).

Current evidence suggests that NRT does not induce vasospasm, and is associated with improved outcomes in smokers hospitalized for SAH. Protocol registered in PROSPERO, available at: 3) 4).

The use of NRT in the acute phase of aSAH does not seem to have an impact on the intensity of headaches or analgesic consumption 5).

Limited safety data may prompt caution regarding seizures and delirium in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage 6).

Eisenring et al. investigated the international practice of NRT use for aSAH among neurosurgeons.

The online SurveyMonkey software was used to administer a 15-question, 5-min online questionnaire. An invitation link was sent to those 1425 of 1988 members of the European Association of Neurosurgical Societies (EANS) who agreed to participate in surveys to assess treatment strategies for withdrawal of tobacco smoking during aSAH. Factors contributing to physicians’ posture towards NRT were assessed.

A total of 158 physicians from 50 nations participated in the survey (response rate 11.1%); 68.4% (108) were affiliated with university hospitals and 67.7% (107) practiced at high-volume neurovascular centers with at least 30 treated aSAH cases per year. Overall, 55.7% (88) of physicians offered NRT to smokers with aSAH, 22.1% (35) offered non-NRT support including non-nicotine medication and counseling, while the remaining 22.1% (35) did not actively support smoking cessation. When smoking was not possible, 42.4% (67) of physicians expected better clinical outcomes when prescribing NRT instead of nicotine deprivation, 36.1% (57) were uncertain, 13.9% (22) assumed unaffected outcomes, and 7.6% (12) assumed worse outcomes. Only 22.8% (36) physicians had access to a local smoking cessation team in their practice, of whom half expected better outcomes with NRT as compared to deprivation.

A small majority of the surveyed physicians of the EANS offered NRT to support smoking cessation in hospitalized patients with aSAH. However, less than half believed that NRT could positively impact clinical outcomes as compared to deprivation. This survey demonstrated the lack of consensus regarding the use of NRT for hospitalized smokers with aSAH 7).


Seder DB, Schmidt JM, Badjatia N, Fernandez L, Rincon F, Claassen J, Gordon E, Carrera E, Kurtz P, Lee K, Connolly ES, Mayer SA. Transdermal nicotine replacement therapy in cigarette smokers with acute subarachnoid hemorrhage. Neurocrit Care. 2011 Feb;14(1):77-83. doi: 10.1007/s12028-010-9456-9. PMID: 20949331.

Dasenbrock HH, Rudy RF, Rosalind Lai PM, Smith TR, Frerichs KU, Gormley WB, Aziz-Sultan MA, Du R. Cigarette smoking and outcomes after aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage: a nationwide analysis. J Neurosurg. 2018 Aug;129(2):446-457. doi: 10.3171/2016.10.JNS16748. Epub 2017 Oct 27. PMID: 29076779.

Turgeon RD, Chang SJ, Dandurand C, Gooderham PA, Hunt C. Nicotine replacement therapy in patients with aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage: Systematic review of the literature, and survey of Canadian practice. J Clin Neurosci. 2017 Aug;42:48-53. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2017.03.014. Epub 2017 Mar 22. PMID: 28342700.

Carandang RA, Barton B, Rordorf GA, Ogilvy CS, Sims JR. Nicotine replacement therapy after subarachnoid hemorrhage is not associated with increased vasospasm. Stroke. 2011 Nov;42(11):3080-6. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.111.620955. Epub 2011 Aug 25. PMID: 21868740.

Charvet A, Bouchier B, Dailler F, Ritzenthaler T. Nicotine Replacement Therapy Does Not Reduce Headaches Following Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: A Propensity Score-Matched Study. Neurocrit Care. 2022 Sep 1. doi: 10.1007/s12028-022-01576-2. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36050538.

Parikh NS, Salehi Omran S, Kamel H, Elkind MSV, Willey JZ. Smoking-cessation pharmacotherapy for patients with stroke and TIA: Systematic review. J Clin Neurosci. 2020 Aug;78:236-241. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2020.04.026. Epub 2020 Apr 22. PMID: 32334957; PMCID: PMC8908464.

Eisenring CV, Hamilton PL, Herzog P, Oertel MF, Jacot-Sadowski I, Burn F, Cornuz J, Schatlo B, Nanchen D. Nicotine Replacement Therapy for Smokers with Acute Aneurysmal Subarachnoid Hemorrhage: An International Survey. Adv Ther. 2022 Sep 19. doi: 10.1007/s12325-022-02300-4. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 3612

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