Paramedics can direct a treatment to people who have had a stroke within an hour of onset of symptoms and help limit the damage to the brain. Magnesium sulphate is a neuroprotective drug in that it dilates the blood vessels that serve the brain and prevents a damaging build-up of calcium in brain cells.
According to researchers at University of Texas, they have shown for the first time that this drug can be used in the field, before the patient even reaches hospital. The study has been done thanks to a unique partnership between the University and local paramedics.
Twenty patients presenting with stroke symptoms between a couple of months were treated by paramedics with magnesium sulphate, under the direction of University physicians. Follow up suggested that the drug, when administered within an hour of symptom onset, does protect the brain from damage. A larger trial is now planned and its hoped that this advance may turn out to decrease mortality and disability after a stroke.