THURSDAY, Aug. 4, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- A growing number of neurology residents in the United States feel comfortable using the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to treat stroke patients with acute ischemic stroke, a new study finds.
An ischemic stroke is caused by blocked blood flow to the brain.
Researchers found that the proportion of neurology residents who say they're comfortable using tPA rose from 73 percent in 2000 to 94 percent in 2010.
"This is good news," senior author Dr. Brett Cucchiara, an assistant professor of neurology at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, said in a journal news release.
"It is imperative that neurology residents attain a level of comfort using tPA that will allow them to use the medication effectively in their clinical practice and guide other physicians in its use," Cucchiara noted.
Even though there is evidence that administering tPA within 3 to 4.5 hours after a patient first experiences symptoms of an acute ischemic stroke can reduce disability caused by a stroke, less than 10 percent of these patients currently receive tPA treatment. Lack of physician confidence in using the treatment is one of the reasons for this low rate, according to the study.
The study also reported that 95 percent of 286 neurology residents who were surveyed in 2010 said they had used tPA, compared with 80 percent in an earlier survey. Of the 95 percent who had used tPA, 59 percent said they gave it to a patient at least once without direct faculty supervision.
The study is published in the current issue of the journal Stroke.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke.