Hospitals must find a way to improve the time it takes to transport stroke victims to the hospital, considering that only about 25 percent whose stroke is caused by a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) arrive with enough time for a specific clot-dissolving medicine to be effective. Even worse, only one-fourth of those patients actually receive the lifesaving therapy, according to a study published online in yesterday's edition of the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
The clot-dissolving medicine--tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)--has been found to be the most effective within what's been labeled the "golden hour"--the first 60 minutes of an ischemic stroke. The drug can be given up to 4.5 hours after a stroke has occurred, reports HealthDay News.
Dr. Jeffrey Saver, director of the Stroke Center at UCLA and the study's lead author, cited an extensive list of steps that need to be taken prior to actually administering tPA, hence the reason so few patients actually receive the therapy.
"A stroke physician must examine the patient to determine that a stroke has occurred, a brain scan must be done to determine whether it is an ischemic stroke, blood test must be done to be sure that tPA therapy will be safe, a medical history must be done and informed consent obtained," he said.
The study looked at outcomes for close to 107,000 patients who were treated at 905 hospital Emergency Departments from April 2003 to December 2007.