More Strokes Treated With Thrombolytics in the U.S.

Use of thrombolytics for stroke treatment approximately doubled between 2005 and 2009

FRIDAY, June 3 (HealthDay News) -- The use of recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rtPA) to treat acute ischemic stroke (AIS) increased significantly between 2005 and 2009 in the United States, according to a study published online June 2 in Stroke.

Opeolu Adeoye, M.D., from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, and colleagues examined whether the use of rtPA to treat AIS increased between 2005 and 2009. Using the Medicare Provider and Analysis Review (MEDPAR) dataset and the Premier Hospital database, AIS cases were identified by excluding cases of hemorrhagic stroke and transient ischemic attacks (TIA), while cases receiving thrombolytics were identified using ICD-9 codes and pharmacy billing records for rtPA doses between 50 and 100 mg. The changes over time and differences between the databases were assessed.

The investigators found that, based on MEDPAR data, thrombolytic use increased significantly from 1.1 to 3.4 percent. Within the Premier Hospital database, thrombolytic use increased significantly from 1.4 to 3.7 percent. The pharmacy billing records showed that 3.4 percent of AIS cases were treated with rtPA in 2009. The rate of thrombolysis increased to 5.2 percent with the inclusion of cases with TIA or hemorrhagic stroke ICD-9 codes who received any thrombolytic.

"The rate of thrombolytic therapy use among acute ischemic stroke discharges in the United States approximately doubled from 2005 to 2009. This is strikingly different from our previous report, which found essentially no difference in rtPA treatment rates between 2001 and 2004," the authors write.

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