The general rule is that tPA therapy is effective when given in the first three hours after an ischemic stroke occurs. The low rate of tPA therapy seen in the study "is similar to the national levels seen in other studies," Kazley said.
Despite the higher level of tPA treatment on weekends, no statistical significance in the death rates of the two groups was seen in the study. "You're looking at the 1 percent of patients who got the treatment, and [at those low numbers] it is very difficult to find a significant difference," Kazley said.
The study results surprised Dr. Jin-Moo Lee, an associate professor of neurology at Washington University in St Louis.
"It's missing a lot of important information," according to Lee. "Two important factors are not considered. One is the severity of the strokes. A second is the time of presentation. Still, it's kind of a surprising finding that warrants further investigation."
According to Kazley, the clinical lesson of the study for physicians and hospitals is that "providers have to be prepared to provide this type of care all around the clock and need to be ready to do it quickly because of the three-hour window."
The lesson for the general public is the need for alertness in detecting the symptoms of a stroke and getting treatment quickly, she said. According to the American Heart Association, stroke symptoms can include a sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, difficulty speaking, vision trouble, dizziness and headache.
Find out more about stroke at the American Heart Association.
SOURCES: Abby S. Kazley, Ph.D., assistant p
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