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Neurotherapeutics. 2011 Jul;8(3):388-99. doi: 10.1007/s13311-011-0049-x.

Intravenous thrombolytics for ischemic stroke.

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Department of Neurology, Stroke Division, Neurosonology Laboratory, University of Texas-Houston Medical School, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


For many decades, intravenous (IV) thrombolytics have been delivered to treat acute thrombosis. Although these medications were originally effective for coronary thrombosis, their mechanisms have proven beneficial for many other disease processes, including ischemic stroke. Treatment paradigms for acute ischemic stroke have largely followed those of cardiology. Specifically, the aim has been to recanalize the occluded artery and to restore perfusion to the brain that remains salvageable. To that end, rapid clot lysis was sought using thrombolytic medicines already proven effective in the coronary arteries. IV-thrombolysis for ischemic stroke began its widespread adoption in the late 1990s after the publication of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke study. Since that time, other promising IV-thrombolytics have been developed and tested in human trials, but as of yet, none have been proven better than a placebo. Adjunctive treatments are also being evaluated. The challenge remains balancing reperfusion and salvaging brain tissue with the potential risks of brain hemorrhage.

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