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Fast Arrival at Hospital After Stroke Pays Off
Date:2/18/2009

These patients were twice as likely to get clot-busting drug, study shows

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 18 (HealthDay News) -- People who get to a hospital no more than an hour after having the first symptoms of a stroke are twice as likely to get the powerful clot-dissolving drug that is the first line of treatment, a new study finds.

Of the more than 100,000 people treated for stroke at American hospitals, 27.1 percent of those whose treatment began within a hour of the first symptoms received tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), according to a report to be delivered Wednesday at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference, in San Diego.

Only 12.9 percent of those arriving between one and three hours of symptom onset received the drug, the study found.

The study results "are both good news and bad news," said study author Dr. Jeffrey L. Saver, director of the stroke center at the University of California, Los Angeles. "The good news is that the message is getting through to a partial extent. We're getting early treatment to a lot more people than we ever expected. The bad news is that only about a quarter of patients are getting to hospitals within an hour of having stroke symptoms."

The results apply only to those hospitals in the American Heart Association's "Get With the Guidelines" program, Saver noted.

Today's report did not discuss the outcome of quick treatment, Saver added. But preliminary analysis indicates that "for every 100 patients treated, 30 benefit and three are harmed," he said.

Use of tPA is the only approved treatment for the 80 percent or more of strokes caused by blockage of a brain artery by a blood clot. (The others are the result of an artery rupture.) But the drug must be used within three hours after stroke symptom onset.

Get With the Guidelines-Stroke is the stroke association's program aimed at increasing appropriate use of tPA therapy f
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