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More Stroke Patients Get Clot-Busting Drug But Barriers Remain
Date:6/2/2011

pital arrival by stroke patients remain important goals for improving treatment rates further," Adeoye said. "The treatment can only be given in the first few hours after a stroke, but many patients delay seeking care, hoping the symptoms will go away," he noted.

"If someone is suspected of having a stroke, 911 should be called and the person immediately transported to the nearest stroke-ready emergency department," Adeoye explained.

Dr. Irene Katzan, director of the Primary Stroke Center at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, said that the new study is great news and confirms what she has seen in her practice. It is gratifying to see that slowly things are moving along, she added.

In stroke care, the mantra is the sooner the better when it comes to tPA use, but a lot has to happen in a very short period of time. Also, some strokes may occur during sleep so the time of onset of symptoms may be unknown, experts have noted.

Stroke symptoms may include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (particularly on one side of the body), trouble speaking or understanding speech, sudden vision problems, sudden trouble walking, dizziness or balance issues, and a severe headache with no other cause.

If someone has a stroke and 911 is called, the ambulance must get them to a stroke center as soon as possible, Katzan said, and there must be processes in place in the hospital to evaluate them rapidly. She said tPA can't be used in bleeding strokes or in individuals taking blood-thinning drugs, with high blood pressure or high blood sugar (glucose) levels. Also, there are state mandates that direct emergency medical services to take patients with acute strokes to the closest stroke center.

"Then the patient would fly through the emergency room, get evaluated with a CAT scan and have blood work within minutes, and if they are a candidate, the intravenous tPA is started," Katzan said.

For this to occur, "everything has to be wo
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