What a Difference an Hour Makes

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MADISON, Wis. – Stroke experts know that there’s a small window during which the main clot-busting drug, tPA, can be safely given. But studies are showing that window could safely be expanded from the previous benchmark of three hours to four and a half. 

The most recent study, published in September in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded there was more benefit than risk in administering tPA during the extra hour and a half. Of 821 patients in the study, those who got tPA between three and four and a half hours after the stroke had less disability three months later than those who received a placebo.

Dr. Justin Sattin, assistant professor of neurology at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, says most patients survive stroke, but many are left with serious disability. The expanded window could mean that thousands fewer patients will require extensive rehabilitation or nursing home care.


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