23 May 12. Prof Joanna Wardlaw
Stroke clot-buster trial shows benefits.
Clot busting treatment
Researchers find that stroke survivors are more able to look after themselves following treatment with rt-PA.
Patients given a clot-busting drug within six hours of a stroke are more likely to make a better recovery than those who do not receive the treatment.
The multi-centre, randomised study of more than 3000 patients is the world's largest ever trial of the drug rt-PA, which is given intravenously to patients who have suffered an acute ischemic stroke.
The international trial - known as IST-3 - has found that for every 1000 patients given the clot-busting treatment within three hours of stroke, 80 more will survive and live without help from others than if they had not been given the drug.
The benefits of using rt-PA do come at a price, say researchers.
Patients are at risk of death within seven days of treatment because the drug can cause a secondary bleed in the brain.
The research team conclude that the benefits were seen in a wide variety of patients, despite the risks.
The stroke experts stress that these mortality figures need to be taken in context of deaths from stroke. Without treatment, one third of people who suffer a stroke die, with another third left permanently dependent and disabled.