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Professor discovers breakthrough in stroke patient’s head positioning

Her research findings could change the game in the fight for improving outcomes for those undergoing stroke care ...

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The moments after a stroke are critical.

Time is of the essence to get to a hospital and get care but a new clinical trial is also shedding light on what should be done in those moments leading up to removing a clot.

The 2024 American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference in Phoenix, Arizona showcased the latest stroke and brain health science.

Dr. Anne Alexandrov is a professor of nursing with a joint appointment as a professor of neurology at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis. She was one of the experts to grace the stage.

“It’s really quite an honor to stand up in front of this huge auditorium filled with thousands of people and be able to share these results,” she said.

“Head positioning is not a treatment for stroke. It’s kind of a rescue procedure, if you will.” 

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Alexandrov presented the results of her five-year clinical trial called, Zero-Degree Head Positioning in Acute Large Vessel Ischemic Stroke (ZODIAC). Alexandrov said:

“We started by looking at, first of all, do patients have increased intracranial pressure and we debunked that myth pretty early back in the early 2000s.

“And then we started looking at real-time changes in blood flow into the arterial territory, based on whether you put the patient’s head up at 30 degrees or down at zero degrees.

“And lo and behold, we found that there was a 20% increase in blood flow into that ischemic oxygen and glucose starved area of the brain from the stroke if you put the head of the bed down at zero-degrees.” 

The clinical trial was a multisite prospective randomized outcome blinded evaluation funded by $2.3 million from the National Institute of Nursing Research …

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