Small delay costs month of healthy life after stroke

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Stroke survivors lose a month of healthy life for every 15-minute delay in receiving a clot-busting drug, according to new research.

Experts found that cutting the time it takes for people to receive the drug by just one minute leads to at least one one less day of disability for those suffering a stroke.

They examined the role of plasminogen activator (tPA), which is commonly known in the UK as alteplase.

Alteplase is a drug for people who have suffered an acute ischaemic stroke – which account for 80 per cent of all strokes.

These strokes happen because of a blockage in an artery and are different to strokes caused by a bleed in the brain.

Guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) in 2012 said alteplase – a “thrombolytic” drug – was effective at dissolving blood clots and should be given as soon as possible.

It warned that the drug should be given no more than 4.5 hours after stroke symptoms begin.

The research, published in the journal Stroke, from the American Heart Association, found that reducing delays by just a few minutes could lead to big gains in terms of healthy living.

Figures for England suggest that for July to September 2013 that it took an average of two hours and 25 minutes for people to receive the drugs from the onset of their symptoms.