Brain cooling may reduce stroke damage

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By Sean McNeely

Dr. Stephen Lownie and Dr. David Pelz want to buy precious time for stroke patients

Dr. Stephen Lownie
Watch Dr. Lownie describe the potential of selective brain cooling to buy time for stroke treatments.

With current treatments, doctors have about 3 ½ hours after a stroke to administer the drug known as tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, which breaks up the blood clots that cause a stroke. (Timely treatment is crucial; for every hour lost in stroke treatment, the brain loses neurons equivalent to more than three years of normal aging.)

Dr. Lownie, a neurosurgeon, and Dr. Pelz, a neuroradiologist, are studying selective brain cooling at the London Health Sciences Centre. They believe cooling certain areas of the brain could allow more time for treatments to be performed and could prevent stroke damage in thousands of Canadians.

“The potential impact is huge,” says Dr. Lownie. “With cooling we might get four, five or six hours and that means a lot more patients could be treated, even if they don’t get to the hospital until hour four, five or six hours after the stroke has begun.”

More stroke research:


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