Research Initiatives Demonstrate Ways to Speed Stroke Care

Studies looked at improvements in ER, specially equipped ambulance

WEDNESDAY, April 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- New efforts to hasten treatment in both ambulances and emergency rooms appear to have significantly improved patients' chances of survival and limited their long-term disability, according to a pair of studies published in the April 23/30 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A quality improvement initiative in hospital emergency departments significantly reduced the time it took for doctors to begin treatment of stroke patients with tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), the first study found. But a specialized ambulance equipped to start stroke treatment on the way to the hospital cut that time even more, according to another study in the same issue of the journal.

A third study in the same issue of the journal indicates patient support for quick treatment with tPA. More than three-fourths of seniors said they would want to receive clot-dissolving drugs if they were incapacitated by a stroke. About the same percentage said they would want cardiopulmonary resuscitation following a heart attack. The results support doctors' use of tPA treatment even if the patient or their family are not able to sign off on it, the researchers argue.

National guidelines recommend that stroke patients eligible for tPA treatment start receiving the drug intravenously within an hour of arriving at the hospital. Unfortunately, fewer than one-third of patients receive it within that timeframe, researchers report in background information.

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