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How can MRI help a stroke patient who doesn't know when the stroke started?

Anthony Cirillo
Geriatric Medicine
Magnetic resonance imaging, or MRIs, might be able to help physicians figure out if clot-busting drugs will help patients who present with unclear-onset or “wake-up strokes,” a new study finds.

Researchers in South Korea used MRIs to screen 430 patients who were either uncertain of when their stroke symptoms began or who woke up while a stroke was in progress. This is an important factor as clot-busting drugs are most effective at preventing disability if administered within four-and-a-half hours of the onset of symptoms.

"Wake-up, or unclear-onset, strokes account for a quarter of all ischemic strokes but have been automatically excluded from clot-busting techniques because the onset time cannot be known,” said lead study author Dong-Wha Kang, M.D., from the Ulsan College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea. “Our study shows that such patients could also be treated safely and effectively."

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