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Half of Americans live more than an hour away from lifesaving stroke care
Date:2/24/2010

(PHILADELPHIA) When stroke strikes, choking off blood supply to the brain, every minute counts: Nearly 2 million neurons die each minute a stroke is left untreated, making it a race to recognize symptoms so that lifesaving "clot-busting" drugs can be administered. Forty-five percent of Americans 135 million people -- are more than an hour away from primary stroke centers, the facilities that are best equipped to care for them if they are stricken by the condition, according to new research led by the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine that will be presented February 24 at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference in San Antonio. Less than a quarter of U.S. residents can reach one of those facilities in less than a half hour. The authors say the identification of these gaps in access is an important step in cutting the deadly toll of stroke, which is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States. The study revealed one existing way to narrow these disparities: Using existing air ambulance resources to fly stroke patients to appropriate care would cut the number of Americans without 60-minute access to a primary stroke center by half.

"Our findings show that many people do not have timely access to the type of care that they would need to save their life or minimize damage from a stroke," says senior author Brendan G. Carr, MD, MS, an assistant professor of Emergency Medicine and Biostatistics and Epidemiology at Penn. "The challenge here is to think about how we can design a system that give everyone their best chance of survival."

Distance from primary stroke centers a key factor in how well patients fare. Currently, less than 10 percent of ischemic stroke patients those with blood clots blocking blood flow to the brain -- receive tPA, the IV clot-dissolving drug that is proven to slash both the cognitive and physical disabilities associated with strok
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Contact: Holly Auer
holly.auer@uphs.upenn.edu
215-200-2313
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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