Mobile Stroke Units Halve Time to Treatment

Unit can treat patients at the emergency site rather than at the hospital

WEDNESDAY, April 11 (HealthDay News) -- Diagnosis and treatment of stroke in patients at the scene of the emergency rather than at the hospital about halves the time to treatment, according to a study published online April 11 in The Lancet Neurology.

Silke Walter, M.D., from the University Hospital of the Saarland in Homburg, Germany, and colleagues randomly assigned adults aged 18 to 80 years with stroke symptoms to diagnosis and treatment either at the emergency site with a specialized mobile stroke unit or at the hospital.

The researchers enrolled 100 of 200 planned patients and terminated the study early according to prespecified criteria; 53 patients were in the prehospital stroke treatment group and 47 patients were in the control group. The investigators found that patients treated at the emergency site had a significantly shorter median time between alarm and therapy decision (35 versus 76 minutes). The median time between alarm and intravenous thrombolysis was also significantly shorter (38 versus 73 minutes). Safety appeared to be similar in both groups.

"For patients with suspected stroke, treatment by the mobile stroke unit substantially reduced median time from alarm to therapy decision," Walter and colleagues conclude. "The mobile stroke unit strategy offers a potential solution to the medical problem of the arrival of most stroke patients at the hospital too late for treatment."

One study author is an employee of Boehringer Ingelheim.

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