Smart Heart: Treating strokes

By: Chris Curry Email
By: Chris Curry Email

May 26, 2010

AUGUSTA -- May is National Stroke Awarness month. And we're teaming up with University Hospital to look at how strokes are treated.

There are 2 main treatments: tissue plasminogen activator... and the MERCI Retrieval System.

TPA is an enzyme in our body that turns plasminogen into an enzyme that can dissolve blood clots. Doctors say you need to be treated with TPA within 3 hours for it to be most effective.

The MERCI Retrieval System was first used in 2004 after being approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Doctors use the device on patients who don't respond to the TPA treatment -- or are outside the 3 hour window.

So far, more than 8,000 people have had blood clots removed using that system. The device wraps around the clot and traps it. Then, doctors are able to pull it out of your body.

Vickie Patteson, a registered nurse working in University's Stroke Unit, says; "You know you're body. If it's not working right and you can enumerate several of the symptoms: numbness and tingling, difficulty speaking or understanding, weakness on one side of the body or the other, blurred vision. If you've got one or more of those symptoms, you need to come as soon as possible."

The most common complication with TPA therapy is bleeding in the brain. Studies show it does not incrase the rate of death in stroke patients. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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