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Stroke Treatment FDA Approved

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked or bursts and the brain is damaged in that area. The consequences can be catastrophic. A stroke can kill quickly, and brain damage can paralyze or rob a victim of the ability to speak and think properly.

But the Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new clot-busting device in the treatment of stroke, The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay reports.

For strokes caused by a clot in the brain, the new Merci Retrieval System uses a corkscrew-like device threaded into the blood vessel to snare and remove the clot and restore blood flow. The quicker the blood flow is restored, the less damage there is to the brain.

It can take years to recover from a debilitating stroke, and many people never fully regain all of their abilities or mental faculties. An intravenous clot-busting drug called TPA is the preferred treatment, if given within three hours, but until now, there was no other option for those who don't get the drug quickly enough or those who aren't candidates for the drug in the first place. So this new device can be used in people after the three-hour window closes and those who are not candidates.

Studies show that this device works about 50 percent of the time in patients who have no other treatment options.

The Merci Retrieval System really is quite remarkable technology; the device is literally designed like a corkscrew to penetrate the clot and quickly retrieve it into the catheter for removal.

There are certain risk factors for stroke: older age, male sex, nonwhite race, and existing heart disease or family history of heart disease. If you have more than one of these or all, the risk of stroke increases even more. And if you've already had a mild stroke, you risk of a major stroke goes way up, especially in the first few days afterward.

If you fall into a stroke risk category, you should definitely seek the advice of your doctor, because your doctor can keep track of some important aspects of your health that can be controlled to keep your stroke risk down.

Here are some stroke risk factors:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking,
  • Physical inactivity
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Existing conditions like diabetes, heart arrythmia, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

These are risk factors that you can try to modify the hard way through diet and exercise, but if that doesn't work, your doctor can also prescribe drugs to control high cholesterol, diabetes, arrythmia and high blood pressure. Aspirin therapy for people with heart disease also significantly lowers the risk of a stroke.
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