Stroke Nightmares

Wake-Up strokes happen while victim sleeps

(RxWiki News) When someone suffers a stroke, they need to get medical care as soon as possible. That's why it's scary to hear that so many people have strokes in the middle of the night when it's harder to get help.

About 14 percent of strokes happen while people sleep. Researchers found that "wake-up strokes" are slightly worse on the victims, compared to strokes that happen while people are awake. Many wake-up stroke victims were eligible for treatment with a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator.

"Many people suffer from strokes while they sleep."

These findings are alarming because stroke victims need to be treated within a few hours of a stroke. However, it can be hard for doctors to tell when a patient's stroke symptoms started if the stroke happened while that patient slept, says study author Jason Mackey, M.D., from the University of Cincinnati.

Mackey adds that researchers should look more at those who have wake-up strokes. Many of these patients are likely to benefit from treatment with drugs that break up the blood clots that cause stroke.

The study looked at all cases of ischemic stroke - which is caused by blocked blood flow to the brain - in the Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky area over the course of one year.

The Study

  • 1,854 cases were included in the study
  • 273 cases (14 percent) were wake-up strokes
  • The average age of people who suffered from wake-up strokes was 72 years old, compared to 70 years old for non-wake-up strokes
  • Wake-up strokes had an average score of four on a test that measured stroke severity, compared to three for non-wake-up strokes
  • 98 of the 273 wake-up stroke victims were eligible for treatment with a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator
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Review Date: 
May 10, 2011