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New Stroke Treatment Improves Outcomes

New Stroke Treatment Improves Outcomes

Stroke treatments using a new generation of blood clot removal devices are showing significantly improved outcomes that could benefit about 60,000 people per year. Treatment is still dependent, however, on early recognition of stroke symptoms.

Stroke Treatment Trials Show Promise

Two studies released this year show a major improvement over the previous generation of blood clot removal devices, when these devices are combined with early recognition of symptoms and clot-busting medications. Study results are being hailed as a “paradigm shift” in stroke treatment. They were so successful that both trials ended early when it became obvious that dual therapy was far superior to clot-busting medication alone.

One trial study compared stroke treatment with a clot-busting medication alone (Alteplase, a tPA) to a treatment of tPA combined with clot removal. Three months after having a stroke, 60 percent of people who received both clot retrieval and tPA were functionally independent and free from disability, compared to 35 percent of those who received tPA alone. In stroke treatment of a large clot, tPA alone reopened vessels 25 to 30 percent of the time; clot removal devices, however, opened arteries 88 percent of the time, even with a large clot.

How Clot Retrieval Devices Work

One type of clot retrieval device suctions up a blood clot. Two other types of clot retrieval device use a stint to open the vessel and capture a clot in a mesh pouch. These stint devices use an expandable wire-mesh system that collapses and is inserted into the brain’s blood vessels through small flexible tubes (microcatheters) which are guided from the groin to the brain. The devices expand at the site of the clot, immediately restoring blood flow to the brain. When the devices are withdrawn from the blood vessel, they take the clot with them.

Early Stroke Recognition is Still Critical

Stroke treatments are still only effective in the first few hours. Stroke victims should be transported to a stroke center within three hours after the onset of symptoms. Call 911 immediately for any signs of stroke.

To assess for stroke symptoms, remember the first 3 letters of stroke: Smile, Talk, Reach

New Stroke Treatment

*Smile: Ask the person to smile. Look for uneven facial movement

*Talk: Ask the person to repeat a common phrase. Listen for slurred or incorrect words.

*Reach: Ask the person to close his or her eyes and raise both arms. Look for arm drift or weakness on one side.

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