According to a study in the Journal of the American Heart Association, stroke patients are three times more likely to receive clot-busting medication if treated at a certified stroke center.
Intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for emergency treatment for people who have ischemic (clot-caused) stroke. The drug can reduce stroke disability."The stroke center concept has rapidly taken off, and this data demonstrates one way that certified centers are doing better than non-certified centers," said Michael T. Mullen, M.D., the study's lead author and an assistant professor of neurology at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
The researchers examined hospital discharge data on 323,228 ischemic stroke patients from 26 states in 2004-09.The clot-buster was administered to:
- 3.1 percent of patients overall;
- 6.7 percent of patients at primary stroke centers certified by the Joint Commission; and
- 2.2 percent of patients at other facilities.
"The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association's Target: Stroke program helps hospitals treat 50 percent or more of patients within the first hour after they arrive.In conjunction with The Joint Commission, the association also offers certification to facilities that meet criteria as Comprehensive Stroke Centers."
"We need more complete systems of care to make sure patients are getting to the best facility to treat their stroke — and getting there as quickly as possible," Smith said.At the first sign of a stroke, call 9-1-1 to get to the facility that provides appropriate treatment. The American Stroke Association has more information and tools, including a new mobile app, that can help you recognize and respond to stroke symptoms.