Time is brain--ask for quick treatment if you think you are having a stroke

News from the American Stroke Association says that we are falling down on getting proven stroke limiting medicines to patients even in hospitals focused on this measure.

A talented physician named Greg Fonarow (UCLA), presented the shocking information which showed that even in Get With The Guidelines hospitals, less than one third of the patients (27%) had treatment (door to needle time) of an hour recommended by current guidelines.

The researchers studied more than 25,500 patients suffering from stroke caused by decreased blood circulation (ischemic stroke) from more than 1,000 hospitals who participate in the Get With The Guidelines (GWTG) stroke program. Unfortunately, ths research also pointed out disparities for black patients and women who were less likely to receive timely clot busting (thrombolytic) therapy.

The sad reality is that patients who are having an ischemic stroke (which account for about 97% of all strokes), can be drammatically helped if they are given TPA, a clot busting drug which opens up the circulation. Dr. Fonarow noted that every 15 minute decrease in door to needle time gives a 5% lower probability of people dying in the hospital (in hospital mortality).

Experts recommended an immediate analysis of the systems used in hospitals to get patients more timely treatment. Patients themselves or their advocates and family would appear to be smart to ask for quick assessment and treatment. 

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