Window for stroke treatment widens

May 29th, 2009 - 2:13 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, May 29 (ANI): After a stroke, a patient gets very little time to get treatment. Now, a new study has shown that stroke medications can benefit patients up to 4.5 hours after they experience first symptom.

It is believed that if a patient arrives at the emergency room within three hours of experiencing stroke symptoms, doctors can administer a potent clot-busting medication and often save critical brain tissue.

But if more than three hours have passed, current clinical guidelines say the medication should not be used.

However, by combining data from multiple clinical trials, Dr Maarten Lansberg, assistant professor of neurology and neurological sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine showed that treatment can benefit patients up to 4.5 hours after they experience their first symptom.

A stroke, or brain attack occurs due to a sudden drop in blood flow to the brain. Most strokes are ischemic, meaning they’re caused by a blocked artery. For these strokes, a medication called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, can open blocked blood vessels and help restore blood flow to the brain.

Among a total of 1,622 patients who arrived at the hospital between three and 4.5 hours after their symptoms started, the study showed that treatment with tPA improved the likelihood of a favourable outcome by 31 percent.

“A favourable outcome means that patients are either completely back to normal or they have minimal symptoms, like some numbness or a slight facial droop,” Lansberg said.

“But they can do everything in their normal life that they were able to do before the stroke happened,” he added.

Another study, led by Lansberg further supported the findings. Out of 100 patients treated three to 4.5 hours after the onset of stroke, the study estimated 16.9 patients would benefit and only 3.4 would be harmed.

“Although this is not as good as treatment at an earlier time, it is still a highly significant benefit for patients treated in this group,” said Lansberg.

However, the FDA has not approved tPA for use more than three hours after the onset of symptoms.

“Until these data came out, we were treating patients up to three hours,” said Lansberg.

“Now, after carefully explaining the risks and benefits, we give patients the option to get treatment up to 4.5 hours after their symptoms start,” he added.

The findings are published in the journal Stroke. (ANI)

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