Research from the Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU) suggest that successive, vigorous bouts of leg compressions after a stroke may assist in triggering natural protective mechanisms that reduce damage. David Hess, MD, stroke specialist, chair of the Medical College of Georgia Department of Neurology at GHSU, explains that using tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) treatment in conjunction with the compression and release of the leg for multiple five-minute intervals, doubles efficacy.
Hess calls the treatment a potentially, “very cheap, usable, and safe—other than temporary discomfort—therapy for stroke.” Researchers add that the compressions can be administered with a blood pressure cuff in the emergency room during preparation for tPA. “Much like preparation to run a marathon, you are getting yourself ready, you are conditioning your body to survive a stroke,” Hess says, noting that the technique could also be potentially used in an ambulance or at small, rural hospitals.
According to a GHSU news release, during the study corresponding author Nasrul Hoda, PhD, MCG research scientist, developed an animal model with a clot in the internal carotid artery. The study’s results suggest that the compression technique, remote ischemic preconditioning, reduced stroke size in the animals by 25.7%. When combined with tPA, the therapies reportedly reduced stroke size by 50% and expanded the treatment window during which tPA is safe and effective.
Hess adds that the next steps for researchers center on pinpointing biomarkers, such as increased blood flow to the brain, which occurred in the treated animals. Highlighting these potential biomarkers may enable researchers to measure effectiveness in humans. The release also notes that in future studies, researchers aim to assess the blood of healthy individuals before and after compression, in the hopes that mediators may be determined as clear markers of change.