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ST. LOUIS – A new drug therapy has been administered at SSM Health hospitals since June 2021 that is proving to dissolve blood clots, particularly larger clots, in a shorter amount of time.

Normally, patients arriving at a hospital within 4.5 hours of the onset of stroke symptoms have been treated with alteplase, a type of tPA medication that is a clot-busting solution used to treat ischemic strokes — the most common type.

But administering alteplase requires an IV setup and infusion pump that draws the fluid from a bag and controls the rate of flow. The complex setup makes it challenging to transfer patients for additional testing or between medical facilities.

Now, a new tPA drug therapy to break up or dissolve blood clots is being used in place of alteplase. It’s called tenecteplase and it offers many advantages. It can be administered via a single small injection, with no IV setup required. It carries a longer half-life, which means it remains in the bloodstream for a longer period of time.

And most importantly, it has been proven in studies to open clots better particularly larger clots.

“We are able to give it over a shorter period of time instead of an hour-long infusion. It has more specificity for fibrin, which is what makes up the blood clot that is causing the problem in the brain,” Dr. James Braun, the pharmacy clinical specialist at SSM Health Saint Louis University Hospital, said.

“It is more attracted to that clot, so it will go to the side of action where we need it. It also has more resistance to the native inactivators that we have inside our body, so it should last a little longer and work better on bigger clots.”

SSM Health has started utilizing tenecteplase as the front-line treatment for stroke patients who come in during that critical time window, and allowing easier and safer transfer of patients if needed.

To learn more about Stroke and tPA, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7 p.m. and FOX 2 News at 9 p.m.