Stroke patients’ lives can be saved by blood clot removal, study finds

Doctors consult over an MRI scan of the brain
Doctors consult over an MRI scan of the brain

The window for helping certain stroke patients with a potentially life-saving blood clot removal surgical treatment may be longer than previously thought, according to a study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Traditionally stroke is treated with medications that stabilize or diminish blood clots in the brain. In select patients surgical intervention to remove the clot may be possible to mitigate effects of the stroke.

Currently, the American Stroke Association advises that blood clot removal for some patients — an emergency procedure called endovascular thrombectomy recently developed and increasingly used in addition to medical therapies — should be done within six hours after stroke symptoms to lower the amount of disability patients will face later. But this analysis showed that the time for treatment could be slightly longer — up to 7.3 hours.

This study could affect the current guidelines on treating stroke patients, according to Dr. Cathy Sila, Director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. She said there is “compelling rationale to move that window a little bit.”

As a result of having lost blood flow to the brain for an extended time, stroke victims often suffer physical disabilities and lose varying degrees of their independence. They often require longer-term care and therapies.

“Long-term disability of stroke is more expensive than cost of hospitalization,” Sila told ABC News today.

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