Every year, 750,000 Americans suffer a stroke and more than 150,000 die.
The sooner you get treatment, the better chance you have to survive. Now, scientists may have found a new way to stop, and even reverse, damage from a stroke.
50-year-old David Adams used to run a restaurant. Then, five years ago, he had a stroke. His life changed in an instant.
Thanks to years of therapy, David's gotten his independence, and some skills back, such as reading, writing, talking and driving.
While David and countless others face the daily challenges of life after stroke, LSU researchers have been looking for a way to stop the damage.
A team led by LSU Neuroscientist Dr. Nicolas Bazan discovered that one injection of DHA, which is a very important component of fish oil, can protect the brain for up to five hours after a stroke and stop the damage.
"In fact, it does both: protection and reversion of cells that are in the process of being severely injured,” Dr. Bazan said. "This could be the way to protect and minimize the terrible consequences of stroke."
It is still early, but some are calling it a breakthrough.
Administering clot-busting drugs is currently the only treatment for ischemic stroke. But, only 3-5 percent of stroke patients benefit from these drugs.
LSU researchers hope to begin human clinical trials with the new fish oil compound within two or three years.
Meanwhile, David Adams is working as a stroke advocate, helping other stroke victims in their recovery.
BACKGROUND: Every 40 seconds, someone in United States suffers a stroke, and every three to four minutes, someone dies from one. The most common type of stroke is ischemic stroke. Ischemic strokes occur when a blood vessel supplying the brain becomes blocked. This causes significant tissue damage and can affect the tissue surrounding the core known as the penumbra. When injured, the penumbra has a limited lifespan of just a few hours in which blood flow needs to be reestablished and therapy administered to avoid irreversible damage. Ischemic strokes account for 87 percent of all strokes and up to 70 percent of strokes seen in hospitals.
STANDARD TREATMENT: The treatment a stroke patient receives depends on the severity of the stroke. If a stroke victim is diagnosed soon enough after the symptoms start, they may be given a clot-dissolving medicine known as tissue plasminogen activator (t-PA). The drug can increase the patient's chances of survival and recovery. However, the drug is not safe for everyone. The stroke victim may also be given an aspirin or an aspirin in combination with other medicine. Other medicines are often given to control blood sugar levels, fever, and seizures.
NEW TREATMENT? New research on acute ischemic strokes shows that Docosahexaenoic acid (or DHA), an essential Omega-3 fatty acid, can be used to protect brain tissue. DHA can promote the recovery of brain function even when administered up to five hours after the stroke has occurred. Dr. Nicolas Bazan, at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, led the study on DHA and its effectiveness in stroke treatment.
DHA treatment has already proved to be beneficial for patients with coronary heart disease, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer and age-related macular degeneration. This is the first time its potential for stroke has been explored. Dr. Bazan and his team found that DHA treatment is not only able to salvage brain tissue that would have rotted, but its use also renders some of the affected areas indistinguishable from normal tissue within seven days.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Leslie Capo, Media Relations
LSU Health Sciences Center