The clot-busting drug rt-PA remains the most beneficial proven emergency treatment for strokes caused by blood clots, a new study has said.
"The benefits of treatment outweigh the risks in patients treated with intravenous rt-PA within 4.5 hours of symptom onset," said Dr. Jose Biller at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine.
Most strokes are ischemic, meaning they are caused by blood clots that block blood flow in the brain. If administered soon enough, an IV drug known as recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) can dissolve clots, restore blood flow and limit damage.
The study found that stroke patients who show improvement within one hour of receiving rt-PA were more likely to do well three months later,
Conversely, a poor response in the first hour can predict a poor outcome at three months. In such cases, physicians "can begin consideration of mechanical interventions, intra-arterial therapy or other alternative therapies."
Additional studies involving larger populations at multiple centers "are needed to address the significance and clinical utility of the intriguing findings of this carefully conducted study," Biller wrote.
The study appears in the November issue of Archives of Neurology.