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Time crucial in clot drug treatment

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Stroke victims should be treated with the clot-busting drug alteplase within four and a half hours of symptom onset, a study has found.

Analysis of pooled data from 3,670 patients involved in eight trials found that there is a window of opportunity that closes 4.5 hours after symptoms present themselves in which to reap the benefits of the commonly used thrombolytic.

According to the study, published in The Lancet, after 4.5 hours the likelihood of good clinical recovery reduces significantly.

The study was carried out by an international team led by Prof Kennedy R Lees from the University of Glasgow to investigate how the time frame in which alteplase is administered alters the clinical outcome of the patient and the mortality rate.

The team focused on patients that had suffered an ischaemic stroke where the brain is starved of blood. They found that treatment with the drug within three hours improved the chances of survival and recovery significantly, prompting recommendations that alteplase should be given to a patient as quickly as possible following the onset of symptoms.

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