Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A New Way To Treat Stroke!

Being the second most frequent cause of death worldwide in 2011, stroke accounted for 6.2 million deaths. Approximately 17 million people had a stroke in 2010 and 33 million people have previously had a stroke and were still alive. Overall two thirds of strokes occurred in those over 65 years old.

A stroke, also known as brain attack, is a condition in which brain function is lost due to a lack of blood flow (ischemia stroke) or a bleeding in the blood vessels of the brain (hemorrhage stroke). About 87 percent of all stroke cases belong to ischemia stroke.

Being a medical emergency, stroke can cause permanent neurological damage or even death. Since the affected area of the brain cannot function normally, it might result in an inability to move one or more limbs on one side of the body, failure to understand or formulate speech, or a vision impairment of one side of the visual fields.

Scientists have been searching for treatments that can help stroke patients recover or at least limit the damages. Finally, researchers from the Netherlands found a new treatment for patients suffered ischemia stroke. By mechanically removing a clot in addition to using a standard clot-bursting medicine, the risk that a stroke patient would be seriously disabled could be reduced. Their paper was published on December 17, 2014 in the  ‘New England Journal’.

Usual treatment for patients with ischemia stroke is to give them a clot-dissolving medicine called tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), but it must be given within 4 and half hours after symptoms begin. Intra-arterial treatment, also known as endovascular or interventional treatment, involves working inside the artery to remove the clot with the help of device.

While several devices that could be used to mechanically remove the clot have emerged the market since 2004, none of these devices could benefit the stroke patients, according to 3 studies published 2013 in the ‘New England Journal’.

Involving 500 stroke patients at 16 medical centers in the Netherlands, the new study tested intraarterial treatment using modern versions of these devices. 233 patients were assigned to intraarterial treatment plus the usual medication care and 267 to the usual medication care alone. All were treated within 6 hours after their symptoms started.

3 months later, 33 percent of those were given both treatments could live independently and take care of themselves, compared to 19 percent of those who were given tPA alone. The death rate was, however, similar: about 19 percent at one month.

The new findings are promising, and further studies are encouraged to be replicated.

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