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Untreated Stroke Kills 1.9 Million Neurons Per Minute

Scientist quantifies brain damage caused by ischemic stroke


MONDAY, Dec. 12 (HealthDay News) -- A typical untreated stroke patient loses an estimated 1.9 million neurons a minute, according to a study published in the January issue of Stroke. In all, the average stroke lasts 10 hours, and patients experiencing a typical large vessel acute ischemic stroke lose 120 million neurons, 830 billion synapses and 714 km of myelinated fibers each hour.

Jeffrey L. Saver, M.D., of the Stroke Center at the University of California, Los Angeles, used data from numerous research studies to quantify the loss of brain cells during an ischemic stroke in a large blood vessel in the upper part of the brain. Using neuroimaging and quantitative neurostereology, the researcher calculated the average rate at which ischemic stroke destroys neural circuitry.

He found that each minute a stroke lasts, 1.9 million neurons, 14 billion synapses, and 12 km of myelinated fibers are destroyed. "Quantitative estimates of the pace of neural circuitry loss in human ischemic stroke emphasize the time urgency of stroke care," the author concludes.

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