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

or ischemic strokes, those caused by blood clots.

Saver and his colleagues looked at the records of 106,924 people treated for ischemic strokes at 905 hospitals. They found that 28.3 percent of them arrived within 60 minutes of stroke onset, 31.7 percent arrived one to three hours after symptoms started, and 40.1 percent arrived more than three hours after symptoms started.

That last number indicates that "we have a great deal of additional work to do in educating the public and stroke center staffs," Saver said in a statement. "For every minute in which blood flow is not restored, nearly 2 million additional blood cells die."

Stroke symptoms include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; or sudden, severe headache.

When such symptoms occur, emergency help should be sought by calling 911 or a local emergency medical service number, the stroke association recommends.

In the study, those people who arrived at a hospital within an hour of symptom onset were more likely to suffer serious brain damage, indicating that the symptoms which led to them seeking help were more severe, the researchers said.

The Get With the Guidelines-Stroke program now covers more than 800,000 people treated at more than 1,400 hospitals, said study co-author Dr. Lee Schwamm, an associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.

"This data registry can contribute significantly to our understanding of acute stroke care and outcomes," he said in a statement.

About 800,000 Americans have strokes each year, and about 300,000 die of them.

More information

Stroke symptoms and what to do about them are described by the American Heart Association.


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