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Clot snatching tool could save lives of stroke victims

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On June 29, the American Heart Association recommended the use of a treatment that snatches blood clots from brains for individuals with severe stroke cases. Like using a snake to unclog a pipe, doctors thread a catheter tube through an artery up to the clot that’s blocking oxygen from reaching the brain. A wire mesh cage catches the clot and removes it. The New England Journal of Medicine published five studies over the last six months showing improvements in patient outcomes after the use of the device. The optimal initial treatment for clot-caused stroke remains the use of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). However, after treatment with tPA, some patients benefit with additional treatment if the clot continues to block the artery. That’s when the stent retriever can be used. Because the procedure isn’t as easy as the tPA and it requires a specialized center, it isn’t considered the first line of defense. A stent retriever procedure must occur within the first six hours of the onset of stroke. Other recommendations include that the patient:

  • have no significant disability prior to the current stroke;
  • received tPA within 4.5 hours of symptom onset;
  • have a clot blocking a large artery supplying blood to the brain;
  • are at least 18 years old;
  • had an acute, severe stroke; and
  • have imaging showing more than half of the brain on the side of the stroke is not permanently damaged

Here’s the original article.

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