More Stroke Patients May Benefit from New Treatment Guidelines
More stroke patients could be eligible for treatment proven to reduce disability, according to new guidelines from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The research was presented at the International Stroke Conference taking place in Los Angeles.
Stroke kills about 133,000 Americans every year, occurring about once every 40 seconds. It is the second-leading cause of death in the world. The guidelines cover acute ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, which is caused by a blood clot that reduces or stops blood flow to a portion of the brain.
Known as the DAWN trial, researchers found patients with a large area of brain at jeopardy of being lost if the blood clot remains are more likely to recover with minimal disability if the clot is removed up to 24 hours after symptoms begin or were noticed.
"What they found was two things, one, they found that every hour delay reduces the ability for patients to have no or minimal disability by 11% and, second, they found the treatment was beneficial up to 24 hours that had this clot retrieval. In fact 35.5% of patients were more likely to have minimal or no disability at 90 days out."
The limit for clot removal used to be six hours, but the research showed some patients may benefit up to 24 hours after symptoms begin. The clot removal procedure requires a physician to thread a catheter through an artery, using a clot-grabbing device within it to reach and remove the clot. Up to 20-percent of all ischemic stroke patients are currently eligible for clot removal. That number is expected to grow under the new guidelines.
As a neurosurgeon, Dr. Anthony Avellino (Ave-AH-lean-oh) is excited about what this research means for patients.
"It really gives patients hope and it really gives us the ability knowing that if you don't catch the stroke within the first six hours you actually still have that time window between six and 24 hours."
Dr. Avellino says these results should serve as a reminder of the importance of seeking treatment immediately, particularly at a Comprehensive Stroke Center, if you think you are having a stroke.
A simple way to remember signs of a stroke is FAST: Facial drooping on one side or the other; Arms where on drifts downward or is hard to lift; or trouble Speaking, do not waste Time – seek immediate medical attention.