Stroke is the third-leading cause of death and the leading cause of serious, longterm disability in the United States. It is a highly treatable emergency condition, but approved treatment to restore blood flow is most effective when administered as soon as possible after hospital arrival by physicians skilled in emergency anagement of cerebrovascular conditions.
Most strokes are ischemic strokes - the result of a blood clot that has traveled from elsewhere in the body and become lodged in a blood vessel in the brain, blocking blood flow. Acute stroke is best managed by neurologists and emergency physicians working closely in tandem.
Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), a thrombolytic (clot-busting) agent, is the only drug currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the acute treatment of ischemic stroke. When used appropriately, tPA can dissolve the clot and restore blood flow, improving the final outcome in one of every three patients treated. Because tPA carries a small but significant risk of complications, including bleeding into the brain, the decision to use tPA requires resources that some hospitals do not have available at all times.