MONDAY, Feb. 6, 2012 (HealthDay News) -- A new scoring system can help quickly identify stroke patients who will respond well to the clot-busting drug alteplase (Activase), Finnish researchers say.
Their study, published in the Feb. 7 issue of the journal Neurology, included 1,319 ischemic stroke patients, average age 69, who were treated with alteplase, a tissue-plasminogen activator drug. An ischemic stroke is caused by blocked blood flow to the brain.
The patients were assessed and given a so-called "DRAGON" score of zero to 10 based on their age, glucose level, time since the start of stroke symptoms, stroke severity and other factors. The higher the patients' DRAGON scores, the more likely they were to have a bad outcome three months after their stroke.
Bad outcomes included being bedridden, incontinent, requiring constant nursing care and attention, or death, the study authors explained in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.
The investigators found that 96 percent of patients with scores of zero to 2 had good outcomes -- defined as independence in daily activities -- three months later. None of the patients with scores of 8 to 10 had good outcomes three months later.
Overall, the DRAGON score was 86 percent accurate in predicting outcomes in the study patients at three months after stroke.
"The DRAGON score is simple and fast to perform, it has no cost, and it consists solely of factors that are known when the patient is admitted to the hospital or soon after," study author Dr. Daniel Strbian, of Helsinki University Central Hospital in Finland, said in the news release.
"We found that we could determine the score in less than a minute. This can help the doctor, the patient and the family to evaluate the situation, make choices and give the most relevant treatment with the greatest speed," he added.
The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke.