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Important Information on Stokes

Even though it can save lives threatened by stroke, only a very small percentage of patients are getting a powerful clot-busting drug, a new U.S. survey finds.

Of nearly 2,100 people treated for strokes caused by a blood clot at 15 hospitals in Michigan over a six-month period, just 2 percent received tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), according to a report published in Feb. 14 issue of Neurology.

The fault for the low use of tPA lies partially with hospitals, and partially with patients who wait too long to seek help for their symptoms. To work effectively, tPA must be given within three hours of the start of a stroke.

Warning signs of stroke include dizziness, sudden weakness on one side of the body, and headache.

"Ideally, the target is that when patients arrive at the hospital, tPA should be given within an hour," he said. "That requires diagnostic tests to make sure it is a stroke, and an ischemic stroke [one caused by a blood clot], and determining that there are no contraindications to giving tPA. Our data show that most hospitals take between one and two hours to do those things, so hospitals need to process patients more quickly." according to the study's author.

For more on the warning signs of stroke, head to the American Heart Association web site.




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