The earlier the better when it comes to treating stroke

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When dealing with ischemic stroke (the kind caused by a clot that obstructs brain blood flow), it has often been emphasized that early treatment say within a couple of hours is most effective for clot-busting medications. A new study published in the journal Stroke suggests that even earlier treatment can make a big difference in how well stroke victims recover.

Dr. Daniel Strbian of the Helsinki University Central Hospital and colleagues sought to extend the results of a previous study on stroke treatment. In the earlier study of stroke victims, they had found earlier treatment conferred benefits in terms of health outcomes and reduced mortality. The present study combined data derived from ten European centers.

Approximately 20 percent of the about 6900 stroke victims treated at these centers had intravenous clot-busting therapy administered to them within 90 minutes of the onset of stroke symptoms. For those individuals with mild to moderate stroke severity, the researchers found, such early therapy was significantly associated with an excellent outcome, although not with a decreased risk of death.

In their discussion, the authors state ultra-early IV thrombolysis [clot-busting treatment] increases the likelihood of excellent outcome in patients with moderately severe symptoms, and in secondary analysis also in those with mild symptoms.

ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava commented Clearly, the take-home message from this study is that when it comes to ischemic stroke, the earlier the treatment, the better, and it s also very important that people recognize the symptoms of stroke so that early therapy is possible.