Stroke patients can be given drugs up to 4.5 hours (Lead)October 1st, 2008 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS
London, Oct 1 (IANS) If patients are administered clot dissolving drugs within four and a half hours of brain stroke, they may suffer no or only slight impairment, says a new study. Earlier, the upper limit for giving such drugs was considered to be three hours.”These new insights will benefit tens of thousands of patients whose cerebral circulation could be restored,” said Werner Hacke, who led the study. He is medical director of the Neurology Clinic at Heidelberg University Hospital in Germany.
A total of 826 patients in 130 European stroke centres who were treated at the clinic between 3 and 4.5 hours after a stroke were injected either the thrombolytic (clot dissolving) drug alteplase or a placebo. Cerebral haemorrhage as a cause of the stroke was first ruled out by CT scan.
Around 52 percent treated with alteplase responded well and suffered no or only slight impairment. In the placebo group, there were only 45 percent responders. The mortality rate was very low and identical in both groups (eight percent).
Based on these results, the researchers suggest treating stroke patients with thrombolytic drugs even after three hours. “But having more time does not mean that we can take more time,” warned Hacke.
Patients with signs of a stroke should still be brought to the hospital and treated as soon as possible. Previous analyses clearly showed that patients respond better the earlier they receive treatment, according to a Heidelberg University release. The results were published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Every year, more than 10 million patients die annually from strokes in the world, making it the second most frequent cause of death in the world, now ahead of cancer. Hacke presented the study at the World Stroke Congress in Vienna.
Tags: brain stroke, cerebral circulation, cerebral haemorrhage, england journal of medicine, heidelberg university, new england journal, new england journal of medicine, signs of a stroke, thrombolytic drugs, world stroke congress