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Research shows benefit for stroke patients in removing blood clot with device

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A major new study finds using a device to remove a blood clot is better than medication alone for people having a stroke. One Gladstone man is glad he had that procedure.

Kurt Hinrichs walks down a hallway at Saint Luke's Hospital. It's no small thing considering his emergency visit here in July. Hinrichs had tried to get out of bed at home, but a leg went numb and he fell.

"I couldn't talk. I couldn't control my glasses. I couldn't get them on. I couldn't do anything," he said.

His wife recognized it could be a stroke, and so did paramedics who rushed him to Saint Luke's where scans showed it was a stroke. A clot was blocking blood flow to one side of his brain.

In addition to giving the drug TPA to try to break up the clot, Dr. Coleman Martin threaded a catheter from the groin up into the brain. It held a little mesh basket, a so-called stent retriever.

"And the device is passed through the blood clot and it springs open basically, grabs onto the blood clot, and then we pull the device out. The majority of the time the blood clot comes out intact," said Dr. Martin.

And blood flow is restored. Hinrichs noticed a difference immediately.

"They asked me to put both hands up and I was able to put both hands up," he said.

He could speak again within hours.

A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine finds the procedure improves outcomes for stroke patients by 70 percent compared to treatment with medicine alone.

"Now we have convincing scientific evidence that this should be the standard of care," said Dr. Martin.

Hinrichs returned to work the day after he got out of the hospital.

"I am appreciative of what God has given me this year," he said.

Hinrichs adds that the biggest effect he's had from the stroke is increased sweating.

Dr. Martin says the sooner you get the treatment, the better. If you have possible signs of a stroke, call 9-1-1.
In addition to Saint Luke's Hospital, Research Medical Center and K.U. Hospital also do the procedure.