Dr. Ken Butcher

Heart&Stroke Maverick Dr. Ken Butcher is an Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Adult Neurology at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He holds the Heart and Stroke Foundation Professorship in Stroke Research at the University of Alberta, and is an ongoing Heart&Stroke Grants-in-Aid recipient. Dr. Butcher has also been awarded the prestigious HSFC Henry J.M. Barnett Scholarship for the highest ranked new Investigator in Stroke Research.

Hemorrhagic stroke, the less common but most deadly type of stroke, occurs when blood vessels in the brain rupture and bleed into the brain tissue causing blood pressure to be often very high. In his research, Dr. Butcher addresses the controversy surrounding what to do with blood pressure immediately after a stroke.  

Until recently, there was no consensus as to whether lowering the patient's blood pressure to reduce brain damage and encourage recovery was the best approach to treat this type of stroke. Some clinicians were concerned that lowering blood pressure – too much or too early – would reduce blood flow to the brain, and could be harmful to the patient. Without concrete answers to this debate, hemorrhagic stroke remained frustrating for physicians, because no effective treatment was available.

Dr. Butcher uses a real-time scanning technique known as CT perfusion imaging that allows him to monitor blood flow to the brain while reducing the patient’s blood pressure, all within hours after onset of the stroke. His research indicates that blood flow to the brain does not change with the reduction of blood pressure; therefore it appears to be an appropriate and effective treatment procedure.

“Here’s a treatment that we already know how to do…,” Says Dr. Butcher, a past recipient of the prestigious Henry JM Barnett Scholarship awarded for the highest ranked New Investigator in Stroke Research. “It’s a relatively simple intervention that could actually make a difference in terms of outcomes.”

Ultimately, this research will lead to the development of new protocols for primary post-hemorrhagic stroke treatment. This will revolutionize stroke care in Alberta, and around the world, and improve patient outcomes for this often fatal type of stroke.