Various studies over the past five years, however, have shown that about a third of those who suffer mild strokes are disabled three months after it occurs. There is currently no clinical definition of "mild" stroke, Khatri points out.
"It can be tough right now to make the decision whether to treat a patient with tPA or not. We hope that more research into how these patients respond to tPA will help doctors make these decisions in the future."
The study examined the hospital records of all patients who had been hospitalized or had deceased as a result of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) in a five-county region in greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Researchers looked at the records of people who arrived at the hospital within 3.5 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. In order to benefit, stroke patients must receive the drug, within 4.5 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Of those patients whose strokes were considered mild, very few received tPA, regardless of the fact that they had arrived in time, and mild stroke does often lead to disability.
Researchers mapped these results to the United State population and determined that if tPA does, in fact, end up being an effective treatment for mild stroke, approximately 2,000 fewer people would end up being disabled as a result of the stroke.