New findings could save the lives of more stroke victims

New findings could save the lives of more stroke victims
Free Stroke Screening

There’s good news when it comes to the treatment of stroke. A new study has found that doctors have more time that previously thought to rescue brain cells whose blood flow is cut off by clots. Many more stroke victims than previously thought can be saved from disability or death if doctors remove blood clots that are choking off circulation to the brain, that new study shows. “These striking results will have an immediate impact and save people from lifelong disability or death,” said Dr. Walter J. Koroshetz, director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

The key finding is that there is often more time than doctors realized in which brain cells can still be rescued by a procedure to remove the clot. Traditional guidelines have set a limit of six hours after stroke symptoms begin. It was previously believed that after that point it would be too late to help.

The study showed that the time window could be expanded to 16 hours. However, the findings do not apply to every stroke victim. The researchers used a special type of brain imaging to identify the patients who still had live brain tissue that could be saved if the blood supply was restored. Only about half the patients who were screened qualified for treatment, known as thrombectomy, which uses a mechanical device to pull clots out of a blood vessel.

The study, involving 182 patients at 38 hospitals in the United States, was stopped early because patients who had clots removed fared so much better than those who did not.