Sodium and water perturbations in patients who had an acute stroke: clinical relevance and management strategies for the neurologist

Sodium and water perturbations, manifesting as hyponatraemia and hypernatraemia, are common in patients who had an acute stroke, and are associated with worse outcomes and increased mortality. Other non-stroke-related causes of sodium and water perturbations in these patients include underlying comorbidities and concomitant medications. Additionally, hospitalised patients who had an acute stroke may receive excessive intravenous hypotonic solutions, have poor fluid intake due to impaired neurocognition and consciousness, may develop sepsis or are administered drugs (eg, mannitol); factors that can further alter serum sodium levels. Sodium and water perturbations can also be exacerbated by the development of endocrine consequences after an acute stroke, including secondary adrenal insufficiency, syndrome of inappropriate antidiuretic hormone secretion and diabetes insipidus. Recently, COVID-19 infection has been reported to increase the risk of development of sodium and water perturbations that may further worsen the outcomes of patients who had an acute stroke. Because there are currently no accepted consensus guidelines on the management of sodium and water perturbations in patients who had an acute stroke, we conducted a systematic review of the literature published in English and in peer-reviewed journals between January 2000 and December 2020, according to PRISMA guidelines, to assess on the current knowledge and clinical practices of this condition. In this review, we discuss the signs and symptoms of hyponatraemia and hypernatraemia, the pathogenesis of hyponatraemia and hypernatraemia, their clinical relevance, and we provide our recommendations for effective treatment strategies for the neurologist in the management of sodium and water perturbations in commonly encountered aetiologies of patients who had an acute stroke.

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