New drug for stroke speeds up treatment, offers improved outcomes

November 05, 2021 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health
Categories: Healthy Driven Hearts

The stroke care teams at Edward-Elmhurst Health know that when it comes to treating stroke, “time is brain” and every second counts, and now they’re turning to a new drug to help patients.

Tenecteplase is a medication for stroke patients that helps break up blood clots and drastically decreases the time it takes to administer the initial dose for stroke patients.

Stroke care teams at Edward and Elmhurst Hospitals began using tenecteplase, a type of tPA (tissue-type plasminogen activator), in November as the thrombolytic drug of choice for patients experiencing ischemic stroke who meet certain inclusion criteria. Ischemic stroke accounts for about 87% of all strokes. Tenecteplase will replace alteplase, the first thrombolytic drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1996.

Because it has a longer half-life, tenecteplase can be administered in a single IV dose, over about 5 to 10 seconds. By comparison, administering alteplase is a three-step process, taking about an hour to complete.

“Adopting this new, efficient practice can improve outcomes in stroke patients by shortening the time it takes to administer the thrombolytic drug,” says Hurmina Muqtadar, M.D., System Stroke Director for Edward Elmhurst Health.

Studies have also shown patients who were given tenecteplase were two times as likely to have good functional outcome than patients who were given alteplase. Tenecteplase also showed a higher success rate of breaking up blood clots.

Tenecteplase has been shown to have good results, particularly when administered within the first 3 to 4.5 hours of onset of stroke symptoms. And while the drug can be administered up to 4.5 hours after the onset of stroke symptoms, Dr. Muqtadar says getting to the hospital as soon as possible is key.

“Don’t wait,” she says. “The earlier the treatment the better the outcome. As soon as you have that first sign of stroke you need to call 911.”

Edward Hospital has earned national recognition for its commitment to high-quality stroke care, and is a certified Comprehensive Stroke Center, reflecting the highest level of competency in treating serious stroke events. Both Edward and Elmhurst Hospitals have been recognized by the Joint Commission as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center for treating strokes.

Stroke hits someone in the United States every 40 seconds. Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S.

Men aged 45 or older and women aged 55 or older, and those who have one or more of the following are at increased risk for stroke:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Atrial fibrillation or other heart disease
  • Carotid artery disease

There are some factors you can control to help reduce your risk. Learn ways to decrease your chances of stroke.

Early stroke detection and treatment are key to improving survival, minimizing disability and speeding recovery times. To help identify the signs of stroke remember BE FAST:

  • B – Balance. Is there a sudden loss of balance?
  • E – Eyes. Does the patient have difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes?
  • F – Face. Is there sudden weakness on one side of the face? Is one side of the face droopy?
  • A – Arm. Is there weakness in one arm or leg?
  • S – Speech. Is there a loss of speech or is speech slurred?
  • T – Time to act. Call 911 if even one of these problems is new.

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we strive to provide the fastest, most efficient and effective stroke care possible. Learn about our stroke and vascular services.

Learn your risk for stroke with a free, 5-minute assessment.

Your heart is in good hands when you choose us for cardiovascular care. Learn more about our high-quality heart care.

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