Use of Stroke Clot Busters Up

Clot-busting drugs following an ischemic stroke still remains low in US

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) A recent American Heart Association study shows that while the use of clot busters to treat acute ischemic stroke has significantly increased, it still remains low in the United States.

The research indicates that between 3.4 percent and 3.7 percent of Americans who suffered from a stroke received a clot-busting drug in 2009 versus only between 1.1 percent and 1.4 percent in 2005. Research has suggested that receiving a clot-busting drug significantly reduces disability and death following a stroke. Tissue plasminogen activator is the only FDA-approved thrombolytic, or clot-busting drug.

"Go to the hospital immediately if you recognize symptoms of a stroke."

Results of the AHA study were calculated using Medicare records and pharmacy billing codes, and with the assumption of some billing errors, Adjusted figures suggest that between 3.4 percent and 5.2 percent of those who suffered an ischemic stroke received the drug. That amounts to between 23,800 to 36,000 of the 700,000 Americans who had a ischemic stroke in 2009.

Treatment with a clot-busting drug is most effective within the first hour after stroke symptoms appear, according to guidelines from both the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association. Some patients, however, can receive the treatment up to four and a half hours after symptoms are visible.

Patients in the study were not followed after hospital discharge, but researchers believe increased use of clot busters would help reduce overall morbidity and lingering disability following an ischemic stroke.

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Review Date: 
June 4, 2011
Last Updated:
June 8, 2011