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New Technique Saves Lives Of Stroke Sufferers

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NEW YORK — Stroke is the third-leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. Now, there may be new hope for people at risk.

Jeanet Desheers is 50 years old, and she has had one stroke. It affected her speech.

"She can speak. It just comes out mumbo jumbo," said Terrence Desheers, Jeanet's son.

Jeanet Desheers is now at high risk for another, potentially life-threatening, stroke. Standard treatments like blood thinners probably will not prevent it, so doctors at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York are trying a cutting-edge technique to keep the blood flowing in Jeanet's brain. It is a brain stent -- a small tube that keeps the clogged artery in the brain open. It is similar to a stent in the heart arteries.

"We are working on the brain, so the potential side effects can be severe. Patients could have a stroke due to the procedure," said Dr. Pierre Gobin of the Weill Cornell Medical Center.

As the stent is snaked up into the brain, Gobin has to place it in the precisely correct position. Once he does and the stent is open, the blood flows freely again.

The device was approved a few months ago. Gobin has done four procedures using that type of stent and so far, all of the patients have done well.

Because the procedure is so new and potentially dangerous, it's only done in the most severe cases, but Gobin does expect the stent to become more popular, especially if patients do as well as Jeanet Desheers.

"She recovered pretty well and she's learning to speak," Gobin said.

Several centers around the country are now studying the brain stent to see which patients will be the best candidates. They expect to have results in a few years.


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