• Jacob Liu

Patient response time can drastically improve stroke treatment rate, study shows

A study led by Dr. James Grotta from the University of Texas medical school shows that treatment rates of stroke can improve a lot with fast response and transport time for patients.

The researchers investigated 374 patients who were sent to 11 hospitals in California for suspected stroke systems, and only 4.3% of these patients had the clot-busting drug tPA administered to them within 3 hours of having a stroke. The drug tPA is a medication used for stroke treatment that breaks down the blood clots blocking the flow of blood in the brain. Most medical professionals say that a patient has a much higher chance to fully recover if the tPA is given to them within 4 hours of first having stroke symptoms.

Furthermore, Dr. Grotta found that several things can increase the current treatment rate for stroke patients. The current treatment rate with 4.3% of patients having tPA being given to them within 3 hours of having a stroke would have increased by 28.6% if 911 was called immediately when the stroke symptoms first appeared. Also, the treatment rate would have increased by 5.7% if the transport time for the patients to the hospital was immediate. And finally, if all patients eligible for treatment in the emergency room were instantly treated, the percentage of patients that had tPA given to them within 3 hours of having a stroke would have increased by 11.5%. In summary, if all 3 response times were improved, 57% of stroke patients in these hospitals could have been treated on time instead of the 4.3% of patients that were actually treated on time.

This study suggests several courses of action that can improve these treatment times. Dr. Grotta suggests more efforts to teach schools and workplaces on recognizing stroke symptoms and calling 911 as soon as possible, because the stroke patients themselves aren't usually the ones calling 911. Because improving patient response time has the greatest effect towards improving on-time treatment of stroke patients, educating people to recognize these symptoms is most important.

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