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Use of tPA for ischemic stroke nearly doubled from 2003 to 2011
Date:8/21/2013

Use of the "clot-busting" drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to treat patients with strokes caused by a blockage of blood flow nearly doubled between 2003 and 2011. In their paper receiving online release in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes, a team of researchers reports both an overall increase in the use of tPA to dissolve clots blocking arteries supplying the brain and administration of the potentially life-saving drug to a more diverse group of patients.

"Hospitals have put tremendous efforts in the past decade into increasing the number of patients who can be treated with intravenous tPA, and this paper suggests those efforts are paying off," says corresponding author Lee H. Schwamm, MD, executive vice chair of Neurology and director of Stroke Services at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.. "Today, more than three-quarters of stroke patients who are eligible for IV tPA are getting this treatment at the more than 1,600 U.S. hospitals we studied."

First introduced in 1996, intravenous tPA can be administered to patients with ischemic strokes those caused by blockage of blood supply if treatment can be started within a few hours of the onset of symptoms. When the drug was first introduced, the outer limit was set at 3 hours, and in 2009 it was extended to 4.5 hours. Appropriate use of tPA can reduce and sometimes even eliminate long-term disability due to a stroke, but the need to administer the drug within even the extended time window requires rapid transportation of patients to hospital emergency departments and quickly ruling out the possibility that the stroke is caused by bleeding into the brain, in which case tPA treatment would make it worse.

In 2003 the American Heart Association established Get With the Guidelines Stroke (GWTG-S), a program designed to help hospitals organize stroke teams, establish best practices for
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Contact: Cassandra Aviles
cmaviles@partners.org
617-724-6433

Sue McGreevey
smcgreevey@partners.org
617 724-2764

Massachusetts General Hospital
Source:Eurekalert


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