On May 7th we had over 40 stroke survivors, caregivers and advocates come together at the State House to advocate for a stroke system of care.
Someone struck by stroke should be sent to a hospital that can ensure that properly trained staff, equipment and neurological services are there to treat them. Quick and attentive care of a stroke victim is the key to determining the quality of the rest of their life. Stroke is the nation's No. 5 killer and a leading cause of long-term disability. It is estimated that 6.6 million Americans 20 and older have had a stroke. Someone in the U.S. has a stroke about once every 40 seconds. About 795,000 people have a stroke every year. In a study of patients who had experienced a stroke, someone other than the patient made the decision to seek treatment in 66% of the cases, or every two in three. 80% of strokes can be prevented, by reducing high blood pressure, quitting smoking and participating in moderate to vigorous physical activity. A major advancement in the treatment of ischemic stroke was approved by the FDA in 1996—a clot dissolving drug called tPA. tPA can significantly reduce the debilitating effects of stroke if administered as soon as possible within up to 4.5 hours of symptom onset. However, only 3-5% of victims receive this lifesaving treatment. Patients who receive tPA within 90 minutes of symptom onset are almost three times as likely to have favorable outcomes three months after a stroke than those who do not receive tPA. The development of “stroke systems of care”, including the establishment of a primary stroke center, can significantly increase the proportion of patients who receive improved stroke care. Patients admitted to primary stroke centers were more likely to receive thrombolytic therapy and had lower 30-day mortality rates when compared with patients admitted to non-designated hospitals.
The outcome of Stroke in large part on how and when the patient is treated. And the sooner, the better, since reducing the time between emergency department arrival and IV thrombolysis improves each patient’s odds of a good outcome. The American Stroke Association, is working to prevent stroke and improve the quality of care that stroke patients receive by supporting the development and implementation of stroke systems of care.