Deep Vein Thrombosis Treatment Tissue Plasminogen Activator Treatment

Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA) is a thrombolytic agent. In simpler terms, tPA is a fast-acting clot-busting drug. It is made from a natural enzyme that is found in the cells that line blood vessels. tPAs quickly dissolve major blood clots that could otherwise be life-threatening.

tPA is most often used in people who have had a heart attack or stroke. Since many strokes and heart attacks are caused by blood clots, administering tPAs during the first few hours following the incident can minimize the damage to the heart muscle and can improve the patient’s chances of survival.

tPA Stroke Treatment

tPA can be extremely helpful to treat people who are having a stoke. By administering tPA during a stroke, doctors can reduce the possibility of permanent disability and other serious effects of strokes.

If a person who is having a stroke is bleeding within the brain, however, tPA can increase the risk of bleeding and can cause death. In order to prevent excessive bleeding, doctors must perform a CT scan of a patient’s head to determine if the stroke is being caused by a blood clot or by a bleeding blood vessel.

If the stroke is ischemic (due to a blood clot) and not hemorrhagic (due to bleeding), a doctor can administer tPA.

Side Effects of tPA

Before administering tPA, a doctor will explain the benefits and risks of tPA. The most common side effect of tPA is bleeding. To minimize bleeding, a doctor will perform the necessary tests to see if tPA is the right treatment for a patient. If tPA is to be administered, a doctor will need to determine the correct dosage to minimize bleeding.

Patients who have been given tPA usually undergo another CT scan within 24 hours to make sure that bleeding has not occurred.

Who Shouldn’t Receive tPA Therapy?

There are some people who should not receive tPA as treatment. People who have the following conditions are not candidates for tPA therapy:

  • bleeding ulcer
  • blood clotting problems
  • brain cancer
  • extremely high blood pressure
  • prior bleeding problems.

If a person has any of these conditions, he should tell the doctor before receiving tPA or similar blood clotting treatments.

In addition, people who have recently had surgery should not receive tPA therapy.

Time and tPA Therapy

When it comes to tPA therapy, time is of the essence. In order to be effective, tPA must be given to the patient within the first three hours of a stroke or heart attack. Therefore, it is extremely important for people who think they are having a heart attack or stroke to seek medical attention as soon as possible. If tPA can be administered, the chances that a person will have a complete recovery are much higher.

Even if a person is not sure if they are having a stroke or heart attack, they should seek medical attention immediately in order to rule out any serious conditions.

Resources

American Heart Association. (2007). Tissue Plasminogen Activator (tPA). Retrieved July 20, 2007, from the American Heart Association Web site: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4751.

MedicineNet.com. (2007). Definition of Tissue Plasminogen Activator. Retrieved July 20, 2007, from the MedicineNet Web site: http://www.medterms.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=40687.