Who You Gonna Call? Clot Busters!

Use of clot-busting drug tPA on the rise for stroke patients

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

(RxWiki News) University Hospitals (UH) Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center has increased use of an effective clot-busting therapy for stroke by 13.5 times since implementing its System Stroke Program (SSP).

Known as a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the clot-buster tPA treats acute ischemic stroke by diminishing blood clots and is the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of stroke. The drug must be administered within 4.5 hours of stroke onset in order to work.

Overall use of the therapy is very low, however, in spite of the development of many stroke centers across the country. Nationwide administration of tPA has increased from about 1 percent of hospitals in 2001 to 2.4 percent in 2006.

Usage rates of tPA at UH hospitals mirrored national averages at about two percent, but through the System Stroke Program efforts, the rate has increased to about 27 percent.

Dr. Cathy Sila, director of the UH Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center, UH, said rapid tPA treatment is associated with better patient prognosis, adding UH hospitals have "done a tremendous job in identifying eligible patients for tPA treatment and initiating that treatment without delay."

Another recent study found tPA administered within an hour from stroke onset was associated with lower in-hospital mortality and less frequent symptomatic intracranial hemorrhage than receiving the treatment later.

The success of SSP was recently presented at the International Stroke Conference in Los Angeles.

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Review Date: 
February 14, 2011
Last Updated:
February 14, 2011