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Women Need Clot-Busting Therapy After Stroke

New research shows women who don’t receive a clot-busting drug after a stroke fare worse than men who are not treated. The study is published in the March 2, 2010, print issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Women need to be treated for stroke as soon as possible,” said study author Michael D. Hill, MD, MSc, FRCPC, with the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. “We found that women who weren’t treated had a worse quality of life after stroke than men. However, the good news is that women who were treated responded just as well as men to the treatment.”

For the study, scientists examined information from a stroke database on 2,113 people who had experienced a stroke. Of those, 232 were treated with the clot-busting drug known as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and 44 percent were women. Men and women were separately placed in groups based on whether they received tPA within three hours after their stroke. After six months, the people were interviewed by phone about their ability to function and quality of life.

The study found that women who did not receive the clot-busting drug were 12 percent less likely than men to have a good outcome six months later, or 58 percent of the women compared to 70 percent of men. However, women who were treated with these medications fared about the same as men who took the clot-buster drug.

“There could be many reasons why women who weren’t treated with the clot-busting drug fared worse than men, including biological reasons,” said Hill. “One social reason may be that more than 30 percent of women were widowed compared to seven percent of men at the time of stroke, and therefore did not have a spouse who could act as a caregiver. Also, post-stroke depression is more common in women than in men, which slows down recovery.”

The study was supported by the Canadian Stroke Network, one of Canada’s Networks of Centers of Excellence program, and the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

The American Academy of Neurology, an association of more than 22,000 neurologists and neuroscience professionals, is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as multiple sclerosis, restless legs syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease, narcolepsy and stroke.

Angela M. Babb | American Academy of Neurology
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