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Stroke

Does more time mean more damage

07/16/2007

Question:

If someone has an ischemic stroke while they are sleeping, does the damage to the brain cells/tissue increase with time? Or does the majority of the damage happen within a certain time frame? I heard a nuerologist say that it`s possible that damage can be done initially and it really doesn`t matter how much time passes before something is done.

Answer:

The damage from ischemic stroke is the same whether it occurs during sleeping or while awake. The damage starts within few minutes but It usually takes few hours (6-8 hours) for the damage to be complete. Currently, there is treatment for acute stroke. However to be effective and safe, these treatments must be administered within few hours from the onset of stroke symptoms. So if someone has an ischemic stroke while they are sleeping, these treatments are usually contraindicated because we do not know when was the onset of his stroke. The bottom line , there is currently approved treatment for ischemic stroke. However, these must be given within few hours from the onset of stroke symptoms. Hence, when someone experience stroke symptoms, 911 must be called so the patient is immediately transferred to the nearest emergency room for treatment. Time is brain. Hope the above helps.

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Response by:

Yousef  Mohammad, MD, MSc Yousef Mohammad, MD, MSc
Assistant Professor
Director, Stroke Fellowship Program
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University