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Stroke treatment gap between men, women narrows

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HealthDay News

Women who have a stroke are far more likely to be treated with clot-busting drugs than they used to be, new research shows.

In the early 2000s, women suffering a stroke were 30 percent less likely than men to get clot-busting treatment, also known as thrombolysis. Recently, the gap has narrowed to 13 percent.

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The researchers reached that conclusion by pooling data from 24 studies, including a total of more than one million stroke patients, published between 2008 and 2018.

"We are heartened that this treatment gap has narrowed, but more research is definitely needed into why a gap persists and whether it is continuing to get smaller," said study author Mathew Reeves, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at Michigan State University in East Lansing. "This is especially important as additional treatments for acute stroke are developed and implemented."

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Reeves said that the absolute difference in thrombolysis treatment rates between men and women was modest. "Still, even small differences could translate into many untreated women given how common stroke is in the elderly population," he added in a news release from the American Academy of Neurology.

One reason for the gender gap might be that women get to the hospital later than men, when it's too late to give clot-busting drugs. Because women are more likely to live alone, it may be harder to determine when their symptoms started.

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"Clot-busting treatments must be given within a few hours of when the stroke occurred to be effective, so delays will make people ineligible for treatment," Reeves said.

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Another possible reason: Stroke is sometimes harder to diagnose in women, so it takes more time, he said.

The report was published online June 10 in the journal Neurology.

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To learn more about stroke, visit the American Stroke Association.

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