Most people have access to stroke care, but few get recommended treatment

Four out of five people in the United States live within an hour's drive of a hospital equipped to treat acute stroke—yet very few get recommended treatment, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2014.

Of the more than 370,000 Medicare stroke claims for 2011 that researchers examined:

  • Only 4 percent received tPA, a drug that can reduce disability if given intravenously within three to four hours after the first stroke symptoms.
  • Only 0.5 percent had endovascular therapy to reopen .

These treatments are most likely available at designated stroke centers, where a team of providers are trained to quickly diagnose and treat strokes.

"If a patient suspects they are having a stroke, they need to call 9-1-1 immediately and get to the nearest stroke center as soon as possible, which might mean bypassing another hospital that isn't set up to deliver the necessary therapy," said Opeolu Adeoye, M.D., M.S., the study's lead author and associate professor of emergency medicine and neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati.

"We strongly suggest that patients go to the hospital by ambulance, that they or whoever is with them ask to go to a stroke center and ask for tPA." The study found that within an hour's driving time:

  • Eighty-one percent had access to a hospital capable of administering tPA.
  • Sixty-six percent had access to a primary stroke center.
  • Fifty-six percent had access to a hospital capable of performing endovascular therapy.

Within an hour by air:

  • Ninety-seven percent could reach a tPA-capable hospital.
  • Ninety-one percent could reach a stroke center.
  • Eighty-five percent could reach a hospital capable of performing endovascular therapy.

In 2011, 60 percent of U.S. hospitals didn't administer tPA. These hospitals discharged about 1 in 5 of all .

"Every 15-minute delay in getting treatment increases the odds of that patient not being able to go home," Adeoye said. "Calling 9-1-1 is best if a stroke is suspected because paramedics should know which hospitals are and can alert the team in advance of the patient's arrival, all of which saves time."

Related Stories

Clot busters limit stroke damage despite age; stroke severity

date Feb 13, 2014

Regardless of a patient's age, or severity of stroke, prompt treatment with a clot-busting drug limited stroke-related disability, according to late-breaking science presented at the American Stroke Association's International ...

Recommended for you

1950s drug is future heart treatment

date 9 hours ago

Oxford University researchers have found a promising future treatment for heart disease, going back to a drug first developed in 1950.

Time is muscle in acute heart failure

date 19 hours ago

Urgent diagnosis and treatment in acute heart failure has been emphasised for the first time in joint recommendations published today in European Heart Journal.

Common mutation linked to heart disease

date May 20, 2015

A common mutation in a gene that regulates cholesterol levels may raise the risk of heart disease in carriers, according to a new UConn Health study.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.