Stroke is a leading cause of death in the U.S., killing 130,000 Americans each year — one of every 19 deaths, federal statistics show. One reason: Conventional treatments involving clot-busting drugs are only effective when given within three hours of a stroke’s onset, so most sufferers never make it to the hospital in time.
But a revolutionary new procedure is giving stroke victims new hope and help, as Newsmax TV’s “Meet The Doctors” reports this week.” It’s called a thrombectomy, and the procedure essentially involves vacuuming out blood clots that form in the brain causing strokes, blocking blood flow and leading to disability and death.
Imran Chaudry. M.D., with the Medical University of South Carolina Medical Center, explains that with a thrombectomy, patients can benefit even 12 hours after suffering a stroke, and perhaps longer. Although the procedure is still considered experimental, studies are underway to refine the technique and establish its safety and effectiveness — research that could lead the Food and Drug Administration to approve it as a front-line stroke therapy.
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To view a complete report on the promising new progress being made against stroke, as well as the latest health news updates, tune in Saturday, Nov. 22, at 7 and 11 a.m. (EST) to Newsmax TV’s Meet the Doctors program, at NewsmaxTV.com, or DIRECTV Ch. 349 and DISH Ch. 223.
“There are multiple studies ongoing to look at its effectiveness. We’re trying to refine the process of identifying the right patients for it,” says Dr. Chaudry, associate professor and fellowship director of the medical center’s Neurointerventional Division of Radiology. He adds that the technique is already becoming “a de facto standard of care at many institutions and will become even more so in the years ahead.”
To perform the operation, doctors thread a tiny catheter through the artery in a stroke patient’s groin and up to the brain. Once there, a small device suctions out the clot in fragments, restoring blood flow and preventing permanent brain damage. Remarkably, most patients remain awake during the procedure.
“To see a patient having a stroke completely [recover] on the table after removing the clot is amazing,” says Dr. Chaudry. “It’s also very humbling.”
Among the early beneficiaries of the new therapy is former South Carolina Gov. Jim Edwards, a patient of Dr. Chaudry’s who underwent the procedure after suffering a stroke last summer. The 87-year-old former U.S. Energy Secretary recovered quickly and completely after the procedure and now says feels as healthy as ever.
“I was very blessed,” Edwards says, telling the hospital staff: “Miracles happen every day here and most don’t affect me personally. But this did and I can’t thank people enough for the part they played in bringing me back from the dead. I thank God for you every day.”
Dr. Chaudry says Edwards’ experience makes clear how promising the still-experimental approach may be for the tens of thousands of Americans who suffer a stroke every year.
"T-PA wouldn’t have been effective in helping the governor at all,” he explains. “But he was the perfect candidate for this procedure [because] he had two blockages, one in his neck and a fairly large clot in his head, as well.”
Experts note that symptoms of stroke can vary depending on whether it is caused by a blood clot (called an ischemic stroke) or bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). But the following common signs of stroke should prompt an immediate call to 911:
- Numbness, tingling, weakness, headache, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg.
- Vision changes.
- Trouble speaking or understanding simple statements.
- Problems with walking or balance.
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