Clot-Busting Drug Lowers Death Risk In This Group Of Stroke Survivors

First Posted: Feb 19, 2016 08:24 PM EST

The clot-busting drug Alteplase, a tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, was found to help reduce post-stroke disability and mortality risk in patients with a hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke. Two new studies based on the findings were presented at the stroke association's annual meeting in Los Angeles.

Statistics show that between 60 and 80 percent of these patients do not survive following an intraventricular hemorrhage, while 90 percent of survivors have little functionality following recovery. 

"For many patients, this approach can significantly reduce disability after a stroke, and can be the difference between going home instead of going to a nursing home," Dr. Issam Awad, a professor of surgery at the University of Chicago, said in a news release.

The first study looked at 500 patients with intraventricular hemorrhage. The patients were trated with tPA or saline through a brain catheter and then followed for five years, from 2009 to 2015. Death rates among patients who received tPA were decreased by 10 percent when compared to counterparts in the saline group and were one-third lower, as well.

Eighteen percent more patients with larger clots -- greater than 20 mL of pooled blood -- who got tPA had "good outcomes" than those who received saline, and 79.8 percent of patients given tPA had 80 percent clot removal. Patients with 90 percent of their clots removed had more than double the chance of "good" outcome, the researchers reported.

The second study, by researchers from John Hopkins University, also showed that specifically directing tPA at the brain's ventricles helped fluid-filled cavities decrease the death rate from bleeding stroke by as much as 10 percent.  

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