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

e. Typically, the drug must be given within three hours of symptom onset in order to be most effective. Unfortunately, precious time may be lost even before the patient decides to come to the hospital, since many patients fail to quickly recognize or act upon stroke symptoms which can include weakness, strange sensations on one side of the body, confusion, difficulty speaking, visual problems and dizziness.

The new study results showed that overall, fewer than 1 in 4 Americans (22 percent) have access to a primary stroke center within 30 minutes, and just over half (55 percent) can reach one within an hour when ambulances are not permitted to cross state lines. Patients are most able to get to a primary stroke center by ground within 60 minutes if they live in the Northeast (64 percent), followed by the Midwest (61 percent). In the South and West portions of the country, just over half (52 percent and 51 percent) of patients can reach those advanced facilities within an hour. Five states had no in-state ground access to primary stroke centers within 60 minutes, and only in the District of Columbia could all residents reach such a facility in an hour. The addition of air ambulances, however, boosts access substantially: within a half hour, 26 percent of the population could reach a primary stroke center, and 79 percent could be transported to one within 60 minutes. The improvement found was most dramatic in the western U.S., where the number of patients transported within an hour would rise to 81 percent if helicopters were used.

The authors used data from the U.S. Census Bureau combined with an inventory of hospitals that have received certification as primary stroke centers by the hospital accrediting body known as The Joint Commission, and they calculated driving times and ambulance dispatch and response times between each population "block group" and the nearest stroke center. They also obtained data showing the location of all helipad depots o
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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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