Ultra-Early Stroke Treatment Greatly Decreases Risk of Disability

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As reported by a new study in the American Heart Association’s journal Stroke, treatment within 90 minutes of experiencing stroke symptoms can greatly reduce the risk of suffering disability. The traditional knowledge has long suggested that fast treatment for stroke is imperative for preventing long-term symptoms such as disability.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s guidelines suggest getting to a hospital within three hours of the appearance of stroke symptoms, according to Medical Xpress. The guidelines also allow the use of clot-busting drugs within 4.5 hours following the onset of symptoms.

However, the study indicated that survivors of mild to moderate strokes who were administered clot-busting drugs within the first 90 minutes following symptoms onset had little to no disability three months later, compared to much higher rates for those who were treated between 90 and 270 minutes later.

“Ultra-early treatment increases the likelihood of excellent outcome in patients with moderately severe symptoms, and in secondary analysis also in those with mild symptoms,” said Daniel Strbian, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Neurology at Helsinki University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland. “All measures must be taken to reduce onset-to-treatment time as much as possible.”

The study included over 6,800 stroke patients from 10 stroke centers throughout Europe over a span of 14 years. The patients were treated intravenously with Alteplase, a common clot-busting drug.. The patients were categorized into three groups based on stroke severity, ranging from minor (NIH stroke score or 0-6), to mild/moderate (NIH score 7-12), and moderate/severe (NIH score above 12).

Those who were rated with mild to moderate stroke showed the most benefit from the extremely early intervention and care. The treatment did show promising effects on those with minor strokes, but they are already at very low risk of disability. Those with severe strokes were still the worst off, as they showed the least response due to severe artery blockage.

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