Greatest Hits in Stroke Research

Top-ten research advancements for 2010, according to the American Stroke Association

(RxWiki News) The American Stroke Association has compiled its year-end greatest hits list in major medical advancements. 2010, it turns out, was chock-full of smash successes.

10.) Even moderate exercise reduces stroke risk in women, according to a recent study. Walking, especially, was associated with lower risk of three types of strokes (total, ischemic, and hemorrhagic).

9.) Two pilot studies found lowering blood pressure aggressively within six hours of stroke onset can inhibit growth of intracerebral hemorrhage (bleeding into the brain).

8.) A study looking at aneurysms (arterial-wall dilations that can be fatal if ruptured or torn) found that treatment with a beta-blocker medication lowers arterial-wall stress and helps prevent dissection and hemorrhages. Another study identified three new, and confirmed two suspected, chromosome sites harboring genes that predispose intracranial-aneurysm formation. Intracranial aneurysms commonly result in serious neurological impairment and death.

7.) A trial study found robot-assisted therapy can improve arm function after stroke compared with ordinary care but about the same as intensive-therapist care.

6.) Doppler ultrasound helps identify silent so-called microclots traveling to the brain. This measure could help patients with asymptomatic narrowing of the carotid artery (the artery that supplies the head and neck with oxygenated blood) who might benefit from stint surgery.

5.) An international study identified ten major risk factors for stroke linked to 90 percent of all strokes. Interventions involving diet and exercise changes, and smoking cessation stand to benefit at-risk individuals most, according to the study.

4.) More than one million stroke patients enrolled in Get With the Guidelines® helped improved quality of care on 10 performance measures. The study resulted in 80 percent of patients receiving defect-free care in 2009, up from less than half in 2003.

3.) A trial comparing the two foremost methods of reopening narrowed carotid arteries -- carotid endarterectomy (open surgical repair) and carotid stenting (endovascular stent placement) -- found that both were comparably successful. Patients under 70 tended to fare better with stenting while older patients benefited more from open surgery.

2.) A study identified a whole new way the body keeps brain blood vessels open amid clots, known as extravasation.

1.) A study looking at the clot-dissolving treatment for acute ischemic stroke known as intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) confirmed previous findings that greatest benefit is achieved after 4.5 hours from stroke onset. The study also indicated, for the first time, increased death risk from late treatment, 4.5 hours to 6 hours following onset.

Stroke, an interruption of blood supply to the brain, is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 143,000 individuals each year.

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Review Date: 
December 22, 2010