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Stroke Survival Odds Double With New Therapy For Some Victims

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A new “counterintuitive” therapy for those suffering a bleeding stroke provides greater hope of recovery, say researchers.

The Washington Post reports that the use of a clot-busting heart drug may significantly increase patients’ chances of survival and recovery even when used in cases where blood is pooling, rather than clotting, in the brain. Until now, those suffering a stroke involving hemmorrhagic bleeding have had a sixty percent to eighty percent mortality rate, and the few who do make it are almost certainly left severely disabled.

In figures released by the American Stroke Association, approximately eighty-five percent of strokes are caused by a blood clot, with only the remaining fifteen percent involving hemmorhagic bleeding. The powerful clot-busting drug known as a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is regularly used in the treatment of patients suffering heart-attacks and those with blood clots near the lungs. Although it may seem to go against common sense, new research suggests that tPA may also be of help to victims of a bleeding stroke, according to U.S. News. Studies have shown that the key to successful recovery may be the quantity of blood that is removed, and it is here that tPA can be of use, as it serves to clear the brain’s ventricles of pooled blood caused by the hemorrhagic stroke.

The group of researchers, led by Dr. Daniel Hanley of Johns Hopkins University, discovered that directing tPA at the fluid-filled cavities in the brain called ventricles cuts the mortality rate from hemmorrhagic stroke by ten percent, without causing any increase in the number of patients left severely impaired. According to doctors, the procedure has a good safety profile, with either similar or lower rates for brain infection and other dangerous side effects when compared with standard methods of treatment. According to Dr. Wright, chief of neurology at Long Island Jewish Medical Center in New Hyde Park, N.Y., “when 90 percent of the blood cleared, the odds of good functional recovery doubled.”

[this research] solidifies a treatment protocol that enables us to provide better hope for functional recovery in a critically ill and usually fatal condition.

For blood stroke victims, the new therapy could “be the difference between going home instead of going to a nursing home,” said Issam Awad, co-chair of the study and professor of surgery at the University of Chicago. The report’s authors are now in the process of sharing their findings and expertise with stroke-treating medical centers across the United States in the hope that it may prove instrumental in saving the lives of a greater number of stroke victims.

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