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Communities Can Speed Stroke Care

Everyone has a role to play in saving lives, experts say

SUNDAY, Sept. 30 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. communities are key to boosting local emergency care system responses to ensure that stroke patients receive the best treatment as soon as possible.

So concludes a new policy statement from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Prompt stroke care can reduce the risk of death and disability in stroke patients.

In creating the statement paper, experts analyzed stroke-related challenges faced by different types of emergency medical services systems (EMSS) across the United States. The experts then came up with potential solutions, resources and performance measures designed to help communities build a transport, transfer and on-the-scene care structure to improve emergency stroke care.

The statement was published online this week in the journal Stroke.

"We look at emergency medical services stroke care as part of a fully integrated system along the complete continuum of care," statement lead author Joe Acker, executive director of the Birmingham Regional Emergency Medical Services System in Alabama, said in a prepared statement.

"First, someone has to call 9-1-1, so we have to educate the public," he said. "Then we have to make sure 9-1-1 communicators recognize stroke symptoms and dispatch appropriate pre-hospital instructions and respond with emergency medical services personnel at the highest level possible. There has to be appropriate care at the scene, then transport to a stroke-ready hospital, which may mean routing past other hospitals that are not stroke-ready."

"The purpose of this policy paper is not only to have people recognize that all these components are necessary, but how to make these things happen," Acker said.

More information

The U.S. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke has more about stroke.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, news release, Sept. 27, 2007

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