More Stroke Patients Eligible for Crucial Treatments

More stroke patients will be eligible for two critical treatments proven to reduce disability, according to new guidelines from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

The guidelines issued Wednesday cover acute ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, one that is caused by a blood clot that reduces or stops blood flow to a portion of the brain. Stroke is the second-leading cause of death in the world and a leading cause of adult disability. It kills about 133,000 Americans every year and occurs in the U.S. about once every 40 seconds.stroke

The guidelines recommend more people should be considered to undergo a procedure called mechanical thrombectomy, in which doctors remove blood clots using a device threaded through a blood vessel. In addition, the guidelines suggest that more people should be considered eligible for a clot-dissolving IV medication called alteplase.

Some patients may now have mechanical clot removal up to 24 hours after symptoms begin. The limit used to be six hours, but new research showed that some carefully selected patients may benefit even after an extended amount of time.

“This is going to make a huge, huge difference in stroke care,” said Dr. William J. Powers, guidelines writing group chair and chair of neurology at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine in Chapel Hill.