Associated Press – June 29th, 2015
The American Heart Association has given their strongest possible recommendation in support of new stent retriever devices. These tiny mesh cages are used to treat large strokes and can aid doctors in restoring proper blood flow to effected parts of the brain. They work by trapping and removing blood clots from clogged arteries thereby reducing the risk of permanent brain damage.
The is the first time in decades that a new stroke treatment has been recommended by the group and follows the publication of several major studies that found the devices significantly cut the risk of death and disability in certain stroke patients.
“It is pretty exciting,” said the head of the guidelines panel, Dr. William J. Powers, neurology chief at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Before stent retriever devices, the best treatment was a clot-dissolving medicine called tPA. TPA remains the first choice in treating strokes and the new device will be used in addition to this medication. The drug must be given within 4½ hours after symptoms start and unfortunately, most people don’t seek help in time.
The new guidelines say patients now can be treated with a stent retriever if it can be done within six hours of the start of symptoms, they have a severe stroke caused by a clot in a large artery, and have brain imaging showing that at least half of the brain on the side of the stroke is not permanently damaged. However, only major stroke centers have the staff and expertise to do the technically difficult procedure.