The past year has seen tremendous progress in developing new therapies aimed at reversing the effects of acute stroke. Thrombolytic therapy with various agents has been extensively studied in stroke patients for the past 7 years. Tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA) received formal US Food and Drug Administration approval in June 1996 for use in patients within 3 hours of onset of an ischemic stroke. Treatment with t-PA improves neurologic outcome and functional disability to such a degree that, for every 100 stroke patients treated with t-PA, an additional 11-13 will be normal or nearly normal 3 months after their stroke. The downside of t-PA therapy is a 6% rate of symptomatic intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) and a 3% rate of fatal ICH. Studies are under way to determine whether t-PA can be administered with an acceptable margin of safety within 5 hours of stroke, to evaluate the therapeutic benefits of intraarterial pro-urokinase, and to assess the use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy to identify which patients are most likely to benefit from thrombolysis. Combination thrombolytic-neuroprotectant therapy is also being studied. In theory, patients could be given an initial dose of a neuroprotectant by paramedics and receive thrombolytic therapy in the hospital. We are now entering an era of proactive, not reactive, stroke therapies. These treatments may reverse some or all acute stroke symptoms and improve functional outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine