New guidelines on how doctors treat stroke patients could save thousands from death or permanent disability.
When a clot stops the flow of blood to your brain, catastrophic consequences can follow.
"800,000 Americans are suffering from stroke each year and it's a huge cause of death worldwide let alone in the States," said Dr. Sam Laali, Director of Stroke and Neurology at Baylor Grapevine.
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New guidelines, released Wednesday, from the American Stroke and Heart Associations expand the "golden window" when doctors can administer life-saving clot removal and treatments to minimize or prevent permanent damage from six to 24 hours.
"This will lead to more patients who are going to get intervention in the acute phase," said Laali. "These patients might have lifesaving or disabling procedures which is a huge benefit for our patient population.
Laali says another big change expands the use of clot-busting medications on patients who maybe didn't qualify before -- people with sickle cell anemia or with a mild stroke.
One study found that expanding the window of time to even 16 hours cut the number of deaths and severe disability in half.