Stroke signs: Each minute counts for victims and determines risks of death, disability and rehab needs

Early treatment of stroke from its onset has been documented to be beneficial to patients but a new study revealed how every minute is critical to saving a life or having better chances of recovery.

A new study published on the Journal of the American Medical Association looked into the benefits of timely administration of treatment after an acute ischemic stroke.

Ischemic strokes caused by a blood clot in the brain are often treated with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator or tPA. The administration of tPA follows a strict criteria but it is known to help in preventing disability.

"Every minute that goes by without treatment, 2 million additional neurons are lost. The demonstration of a substantial impact of even 15 minutes delay in starting treatment emphasizes the importance of the fastest possible evaluation and treatment of acute stroke patients," said Dr. Jeffrey Saver, lead author and director of Comprehensive Stroke Center at the UCLA, in a correspondence with ABCNews.

Saver and team concluded that a 15-minute onset to treatment time will cut the death risk by four percent and improve the chances of walking out of the hospital upon discharge by four percent.

The study "Time to Treatment with Intravenous Tissue Plasminogen Activator and Outcome from Acute Ischemic Stroke" published on June 19 looked into the data of 58,353 stroke patients that have been treated with tPA within four to five hours upon the onset of the stroke. The subjects came from 1,395 hospitals that participated in a long-term study conducted from April 2003 to March 2012.

In the stroke cases the proponents analyzed, nine percent died while in the hospital, five percent had intracranial hemorrhage, 33.4 percent were able to walk upon discharge, and 38.6% were discharged to go home.

The study found out that onset to treatment time in 15-minute intervals can help improve the outcome for the patient. A 90-minute onset to treatment time can lower in-hospital deaths by 26 percent, intracranial hemorrhage by 28 percent, improve chances of independent walking upon discharge by 51 percent and up the chances of being discharged from the hospital to home by 33 percent. The chances are not as good for stroke patients who were given the tPA in 181 through 270 minutes upon onset of the stroke.

According to the statistics of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke kills about 130,000 American each year. A clearer picture, one person in the U.S. suffers from stroke every four seconds and every four minutes, someone dies because of it. The country spends $38.6 billion annually for the treatment, medicine and lost productivity due to stroke.

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