WEDNESDAY, Feb. 6 (HealthDay News) -- The standard medical care for patients having an ischemic stroke is to give powerful "clot-busting" drugs as soon as possible after the start of the stroke.
But some hospitals are starting to rely on new treatment methods that actually go into the artery and retrieve the clot or destroy it at the site.
According to a new study from Italy, however, these new methods -- collectively referred to as endovascular treatment -- are no better than the standard clot-buster drug known as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA).
"Our findings do not provide support for the use of the more invasive and expensive endovascular therapy over intravenous treatment," said study author Dr. Alfonso Ciccone, director of the stroke unit and neurology department at Carlo Poma Hospital, in Mantua.
The results indicate that standard, intravenous tPA is the first-line therapy for acute stroke, he said.
"This defines a clear priority in treatment options," said Ciccone, who coordinated the study while working at Niguarda Ca Granda Hospital, in Milan.
The study appeared online Feb. 6 in the New England Journal of Medicine, to coincide with a presentation at the American Stroke Association annual meeting, in Honolulu.
Ischemic strokes account for 87 percent of all strokes and are caused by a blockage in one of the blood vessels carrying blood to the brain. (Most other strokes are hemorrhagic, which result when a blood vessel breaks, leaking blood into the brain.)
Studies have shown that administering tPA through an IV line within 4.5 hours of the onset of the ischemic stroke can greatly minimize damage to the brain and this is now widely viewed as the standard of care for this type of stroke, said Dr. Curtis Benesch, medical director of the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center at the University of Rochester Medical Center, in New Yo
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