Posted on by Dr. Francis Collins
Despite the recent progress we’ve made in preventing stroke by such steps as controlling weight, lowering blood pressure, and stopping smoking, nearly 700,000 Americans suffer clot-induced, or ischemic, strokes every year . So, I’m very pleased to report that, thanks to years of rigorous research and technological development, we’ve turned a major corner in the emergency treatment of this leading cause of death and disability.
The most severe strokes—those that can cause lifelong loss of independent function—are often due to blood clots that suddenly enter and block one of the main arteries supplying blood flow to the brain. No less than four large, randomized clinical trials recently reported results showing, for the first time, that using catheters to remove large clots from cerebral arteries can restore blood flow and halt further damage to the brains of patients with acute strokes. In fact, the stent-based retrievers and other mechanical approaches used to remove stroke-causing clots proved so effective, that three of the four trials were stopped early, allowing the results to be made swiftly available to medical professionals and the public.