Major advances in stroke treatment and prevention have, occurred over the last several years. Recent studies have documented that appropriate modification of stroke risk factors can lead to, a substantial reduction in stroke incidence. In addition, a variety of new risk factors, such as elevated plasma homocysteine levels, antiphospholipid antibodies, and specific genetic factors, are being recognized. The most significant advance in acute stroke therapy is the use of intravenous tissue plasminogen activator, (t-PA) for treatment of patients with ischemic stroke within 3 hours of symptom onset. T-PA is currently the only stroke treatment approved by the Federal Drug Administration. There continues to be uncertainty and misunder-standing regarding the risks and benefits of this therapy. A variety of neuroprotective agents have been highly successful for reducing ischemic brain injury in animal stroke models. Recent clinical trials with these agents, however, have not produced beneficial effects in humans. Newer neuroprotective agents with more favorable safety profiles and improvements in clinical trial design may lead to therapeutic successes in the near future. It is apparent that both thrombolytic and neuroprotective treatments for acute stroke must be administered very rapidly, after stroke onset. Therefore, acute stroke teams are being developed to facilitate rapid diagnostic evaluation and treatment of stroke patients.
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