Six years ago, architect John Cryer nearly died, ut he was in the right city at the right time.
On his way to the hospital, John got a clot-busting drug in the ambulance.
Doctor James McCarthy at UT Health Science Center in Houston says that drug bought John precious time.
He says, "Someone who calls 911 immediately and gets their artery opened up within the first 60 minutes, their likelihood of dying is very, very small."
The average person waits 90 minutes to call for help.
Then it's another 90 minutes or more by the time doctors can open their arteries.
Doctor Richard Smalling says their study shows giving the drug in the field saves lives.
Results show patients who receive the drug have a 50 percent reduction in heart attack size.
Patients who get the drug are also 50 percent less likely to die.
John knows his outcome could have been much worse.
More information on next page.
WHAT ARE CLOT-BUSTING DRUGS? Clot-busting drugs, or thrombolytics, are drugs that are injected to break up or dissolve a blood clot in heart attack patients. Thrombolytics break up clots by forming an enzyme called plasmin that can break the bonds between the fibrin molecules that give a clot its structural integrity. (SOURCE: http://www.cvpharmacology.com/thrombolytic/)
Breaking up the blood clot unblocks the artery, which stops the heart attack and saves the heart from muscle damage. Use of a thrombolytic within 12 hours of a heart attack gives the patient a better chance of survival, but the sooner the clot-busting drugs are taken, the better. Thrombolytics work best for a heart attack if taken within three hours of the heart attack.
Clot-busting drugs are also useful for treating strokes. Many strokes are the result of a clot blocking the flow of blood to the brain. The clot-busting drugs can dissolve the clot and restore the flow of blood, limiting the damage and disability caused by the stroke. However, if the patient is having a hemorrhagic stroke, the clot-busting drug could increase the bleeding and worsen the stroke.
CAN YOU HAVE THROMBOLYTICS? Doctors take several factors into account when deciding whether or not to use clot-busting drugs to treat a heart attack or stroke. Some of them are:
Medical History: previous heart attacks, low blood pressure, diabetes, etc.
Doctors usually won't give clot-busting drugs if:
The patient has a recent head injury.
The patient is pregnant.
The patient has bleeding problems or bleeding ulcers.
The patient is on blood-thinning medication.
The patient has uncontrolled high blood pressure.
RISKS OF THROMBOLYTICS: The major risk of clot-busting drugs is hemorrhaging, which can possibly be life-threatening. About 25 percent of patients who have received thrombolytics will experience bleeding from their gums or nose, and very rarely (in about 1 percent of cases), patients who have received thrombolytics will bleed into the brain.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Deborah Mann Lake, Media Relations Specialist
University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
(Information provided by Ivanhoe)