06/12/2009 - News

More Stroke Patients May Benefit from Clot-Busting Drugs

By: June Chen, MD


Current recommendations for the treatment of acute stroke limit the use of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a clot-busting drug, to within three hours after the start of stroke symptoms.

Although prior research has demonstrated a benefit of tPA if given in the 3- to 4.5-hour time window, other studies have failed to demonstrate significant benefit of tPA beyond three hours. Now, researchers provide new evidence for an extended treatment window, according to a study published online May 28, 2009 in Stroke.


Scientists from the Stanford Stroke Center in Palo Alto, California and their colleagues performed a meta-analysis of data from the Third European Cooperative Acute Stroke Study and The Alteplase Thrombolysis for Acute Noninterventional Therapy in Ischemic Stroke study to determine the efficacy of tPA in the 3- to 4.5-hour time window. They found that tPA treatment was associated with an increased chance of favorable outcome and no significant difference in mortality.


The scientists conclude that treatment with tPA in the extended 3- to 4.5-hour time window is beneficial. As only about a third of stroke victims get medical treatment within 3 hours, the extended treatment window for tPA is expected to increase the number of people who receive tPA. Despite the update to the stroke treatment guidelines, it is still important for health care providers to be aware that, the earlier tPA is given, the better it is for the stroke patient. Educating patients to recognize the possible symptoms of stroke may still be the best way to increase the likelihood that tPA will be given to the patients who need it.



Stroke. Published online before print May 28, 2009.

Created on: 06/04/2009
Reviewed on: 06/12/2009

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