What is tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)?

TPA is given to stroke patients to cause the clot in the brain to break down, says Phaniraj Iyengar, MD, a vascular neurologist at Sunrise Hospital. In this video, he explains that there is a limited time during which this is effective. 
Tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is a thrombolytic agent or “clot buster” medication that can dissolve a blockage within an artery to restore blood flow to the brain.
Thrombolytic therapy is often the first line of defense in treating some forms of ischemic stroke. The drug most commonly given for thrombolytic therapy, recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), is one of the first genetically engineered medications. Intravenous tPA was developed to dissolve small clots by generating the enzyme plasmin, which digests the strands of fibrin that form clots. Data from the European Cooperative Acute Stroke Study established that tPA can be safely administered up to four-and-a-half hours after the start of stroke.

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