Study: Drug Therapy May Help More Stroke Victims

A new study by Massachusetts General Hospital says more stroke victims may benefit from immediate drug therapy than most doctors think.

Conventional medical wisdom is that people suffering strokes only benefit from clot-busting drugs if they're taken within three hours of experiencing symptoms. But Dr. William Copen, director of advanced magnetic resonance neuroimaging at Mass General, says the drugs may actually be effective for nine hours or more after a stroke takes place.

"It seems that no matter how extensive our public health efforts, it's just very difficult to get stroke patients to the hospital within that three-hour window," says Copen, the study's lead author. "So every little bit that we can make that window wider will result in a lot more patients who we can treat successfully."

Still, Copen says the most important thing people having a stroke can do is get to a hospital as fast as possible.

The study will be published in the March issue of Radiology and is already posted on the journal's website.

This program aired on February 13, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.