-- Randy Dotinga
TUESDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- About 14 percent of strokes
happen while people are sleeping, lowering the chance that they'll
be able to get to the hospital in time for a potentially
brain-saving treatment, a new study suggests.
"Because the only treatment for ischemic stroke must be given within a few hours after the first symptoms begin, people who wake up with stroke symptoms often can't receive the treatment since we can't determine when the symptoms started," Dr. Jason Mackey, of the University of Cincinnati and a study co-author, said in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology. "Imaging studies are being conducted now to help us develop better methods to identify which people are most likely to benefit from the treatment, even if symptoms started during the night."
In the study, published in the May 10 issue of
Neurology, researchers examined the medical records of 1,854 adults who suffered from ischemic strokes in a one-year period and were treated at emergency rooms in the Cincinnati area. Ischemic stroke is caused by blocked blood flow in the brain, usually because of a clot.
In 14 percent of the cases, people woke up with symptoms of a
stroke. Nationwide, that would account for 58,000 people who visit
emergency rooms with stroke systems annually, the study authors
Of 273 people who had so-called "wake-up strokes," at least 98
would have been eligible for treatment with a blood clot-busting
drug called tPA if doctors had known when the stroke had begun, the
"If a stroke started more than a few hours ago, tPA is not indicated because it can cause bleeding that will extend and enlarge the stroke," explained Dr. Byron K. Lee, associate professor of medicine and director of the Electrophysiology Laboratories and Clinics at the University of California, San Francisco. "In wake-up strokes, it's nearly impossible to know when the symptoms started [so] tPA is not an option and, therefore, the neurologic deficits have a higher chance of becoming permanent."
If you wake up feeling strange symptoms, Lee said, don't sit
around. "People should not wait for any new neurologic deficits in
the morning to pass or go away as they become less groggy," he
said. "They should seek medical attention immediately. Even though
tPA may not be an option in wake-up strokes, there are many other
treatments that can be given in an emergency room or hospital."
According to the National Stroke Association, symptoms of a
Stroke experts offer a simple way to help people remember what
to look for if they think they are witnessing a stroke: Think FAST
(Face, Arms, Speech, Time):
For more about
the signs of
stroke, visit the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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