STOPPING STROKE DAMAGE: TIME IS LIFE!
Every 40 seconds, someone in United States suffers a stroke, and every three to four minutes, someone dies from one. The most common type of stroke is ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes occur when a blood vessel supplying the brain becomes blocked. This causes significant tissue damage and can affect the tissue surrounding the core known as the penumbra. When injured, the penumbra has a limited lifespan of just a few hours in which blood flow needs to be reestablished and therapy administered to avoid irreversible damage. Ischemic strokes account for 87 percent of all strokes and up to 70 percent of strokes seen in hospitals.
STANDARD TREATMENT: The treatment a stroke patient receives depends on the severity of the stroke. If a stroke victim is diagnosed soon enough after the symptoms start, they may be given a clot-dissolving medicine known as tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA). The drug can increase the patient’s chances of survival and recovery. However, the drug is not safe for everyone. The stroke victim may also be given an aspirin or an aspirin in combination with other medicine. Other medicines are often given to control blood sugar levels, fever, and seizures.
NEW TREATMENT? New research on acute ischemic strokes shows that Docosahexaenoic acid (or DHA), an essential Omega-3 fatty acid, can be used to protect brain tissue. DHA can promote the recovery of brain function even when administered up to five hours after the stroke has occurred. Dr. Nicolas Bazan, at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, led the study on DHA and its effectiveness in stroke treatment.
DHA treatment has already proved to be beneficial for patients with coronary heart disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and age-related macular degeneration. This is the first time its potential for stroke has been explored. Dr. Bazan and his team found that DHA treatment is not only able to salvage brain tissue that would have rotted, but its use also renders some of the affected areas indistinguishable from normal tissue within seven days.