Brain scan study shows clot-busting drug benefits stroke patients

April 9, 2015, University of Edinburgh

A drug that breaks up blood clots in the brains of stroke patients could be used more widely than at present without increased risk, a brain scan study suggests.

It had previously been thought that giving the drug to people with signs of early damage in the brain caused by a would increase the chances of them suffering a bleed on the brain - which can be fatal.

The study is the first to show that early tissue damage seen in does not necessarily indicate an increased risk of bleeding. Patients with early tissue damage from strokes are less likely to make a full recovery, but they still benefit from receiving the drug, researchers say.

The drug - called alteplase - is the only treatment for stroke caused by a blocked blood vessel in the brain.

Worries over the appearance of brain scans of taken on arrival at hospital to diagnose strokes have probably meant patients who could have benefitted from alteplase did not receive it, the team says.

Experts were concerned that patients with early - which can be difficult for stroke doctors to see - were more likely to suffer a brain bleed if they were treated with alteplase.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh found there is only an increased risk of haemorrhage in patients with multiple signs of tissue damage caused by other diseases before the stroke - which are easily identified in scans - together with signs of a fresh clot blocking an artery.

In the small number of people with signs of both previous and a new clot in a blood vessel, 14 per cent of those given alteplase are likely to have a haemorrhage, the team says. However, in people without these signs only three per cent are expected to suffer a bleed if they are given the drug.

Researchers analysed more than 3,000 people involved in a clinical trial assessing the effectiveness of alteplase as a stroke treatment.

Patient risk factors are easy to identify in brain scans, enabling doctors to decide whether the risk to patients outweighs the potential benefits of receiving alteplase, the team says.

The study, published in the journal The Lancet Neurology, was funded by the Medical Research Council.

Professor Joanna Wardlaw, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, who led the study, said: "Bleeding in the is the main side effect of alteplase, so if we can avoid that hazard, then patients are more likely to benefit. Previous studies have not looked at pre-existing signs of damage nor considered analysing multiple signs in combination, yet having multiple and old signs are both very common in patients with stroke."

Explore further: New drug treatment could offer stroke survivors better outcomes

Related Stories

New drug treatment could offer stroke survivors better outcomes

February 26, 2015
Promising results for a new drug treatment for ischaemic stroke patients have been published today in the journal Lancet Neurology.

Use of anti-clotting drug more than three hours after stroke should be re-evaluated, say researchers

March 17, 2015
Advice to use the anti-clotting drug alteplase more than three hours after an acute stroke should be re-evaluated, say researchers writing in The BMJ this week.

New stroke prevention efforts may be paying off

March 31, 2015
(HealthDay)—Fewer people are being treated in U.S. emergency rooms for strokes caused by blood clots in the brain, which experts read as a sign that current stroke prevention methods are working.

A brighter future after stroke

April 7, 2015
There's a stroke every 10 minutes in Canada. Of those, about 10-15 per cent are triggered by arterial ruptures and uncontrolled bleeding in the brain, and are incredibly devastating. These are the strokes that University ...

Meta-analysis shows that alteplase given promptly after stroke reduces long-term disability

August 6, 2014
Many more stroke patients could benefit from thrombolytic treatment (the use of drugs to break up or dissolve blood clots), but it needs to be administered as quickly as possible after the first signs of illness, according ...

World's biggest stroke clot-buster trial reveals patient benefits

May 24, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Patients given a clot-busting drug within six hours of a stroke are more likely to make a better recovery than those who do not receive the treatment, new research has found.

Recommended for you

Classifying brain microglia: Which are good and which are bad?

December 6, 2018
Microglia are known to be important to brain function. The immune cells have been found to protect the brain from injury and infection and are critical during brain development, helping circuits wire properly. They also seem ...

Drawing is better than writing for memory retention

December 6, 2018
Older adults who take up drawing could enhance their memory, according to a new study.

Friend or foe? Brain area that controls social memory also triggers aggression

December 5, 2018
Columbia scientists have identified a brain region that helps tell an animal when to attack an intruder and when to accept it into its home. This brain area, called CA2, is part of the hippocampus, a larger brain structure ...

How the brain hears and fears

December 5, 2018
How is it that a sound can send a chill down your spine? By observing individual brain cells of mice, scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) are understanding how a sound can incite fear.

Adding new channels to the brain remote control

December 5, 2018
By enabling super-fast remote control of specific cells, light-activated proteins allow researchers to study the function of individual neurons within a large network—even an entire brain. Now one of the pioneers of 'optogenetics' ...

Microbial-based treatment reverses autism spectrum social deficits in mouse models

December 4, 2018
An unconventional approach has successfully reversed deficits in social behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in genetic, environmental and idiopathic mouse models of the condition. Researchers at Baylor ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.