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Advanced Therapy Aids Stroke Patients
Date:1/23/2008

Procedure brings clot-busting drugs right to site of blood clot, study reports

WEDESDAY, Jan. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Therapies that attack blood clots directly in the brain may benefit ischemic stroke patients who don't respond to the standard treatment using clot-busting drugs.

So says a U.S. study that was to have been presented Tuesday at the 20th annual International Symposium on Endovascular Therapy, in Hollywood, Fla.

Ischemic strokes -- which account for about 83 percent of strokes -- occur when a small clot blocks an artery in the brain and halts blood flow, according to the American Stroke Association. If the clot isn't cleared and blood flow restored, the patient will suffer permanent brain damage or death.

"Often patients who fail to improve with standard intravenous (IV) stroke therapy aren't given the chance to succeed with more advanced intra-arterial (IA) therapy, because it's thought that it won't work if IV therapy didn't, and that it will increase the risk of bleeding in the brain," study author Dr. Christopher Zylak, director of neurointerventional radiology at Sacred Heart Medical Center in Spokane, Wash., said in a prepared statement. "Our data suggest that IA therapy can be highly successful even when IV therapy doesn't work, and that the risk of bleeding is no different between the two therapies."

In IV therapy, clot-busting drugs are delivered through an intravenous device in the patient's arm. IV treatment must begin within three hours of the onset of stroke, which means patients must get to the hospital at the first signs of stroke.

IA therapy involves placing a catheter through a small incision in the patient's groin and moving the catheter through an artery all the way to the site of the blockage in the patient's brain. This enables direct delivery of clot-busting drugs to the area. Doctors also can use the catheter to insert a tiny corkscrew-like device to remove the
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