For the very first time, the American Heart Association has issued guidelines endorsing the use of a device for treating strokes. This is the first new treatment that has acquired strongest support from the AHA.
There is now a new treatment option for many stroke patients who find help quick enough to get it. The new guidelines issued by the AHA strongly support using a detachable stent for opening clogged arteries that cause a stroke.
According to a Press Herald article, Maine Medical Center in Portland is amongst one of the few places in the United States that is already offering this treatment.
The head of the guidelines panel and neurology chief at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Dr. William J. Powers said, “It is pretty exciting and many patients will benefit if they seek help when symptoms first appear.”
Each year in the United States, majority of the 800,000 strokes are caused by a blood clot stuck in the brain. The common treatment for this is tPA, a clot-dissolving medicine which remains the preferred choice. However, this medicine must be given within 41/2 hours when the symptoms start appearing, and majority of people don’t get help in time. According to William J. Powers, this medicine does not work in one or two of every 4 cases.
On the other hand, this device which is called a stent retriever has found to be quite effective. It is a very small mesh cage that is pushed with the help of a tube into a blood vessel and directed to the clot, similar to the stents long which are used to treat clogged heart arteries. However, the brain stents are somewhat different from the heart stents as they trap the clot and are removed with it. A number of studies so far have found that these devices are capable of cutting the risk of disability or death in people whose clots remained after treatment with tPA.
According to the American Heart Association guidelines, this stent retriever can be used for treating these patients if it can be carried out within 6 hours of the onset of the symptoms, they have got a stroke due to a clot in a large artery, and their brain imaging shows that at least half of the brain on the stroke side is not permanently damaged. In this regard, it is important to note that the benefits of stent retrievers after six hours, or for patients not treated first with tPA, is not known.