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Stroke Treatment Care Low despite Accessibility

Update Date: Feb 13, 2014 10:07 AM EST

Poor health and rising medical costs are often due to the fact that people do not utilize facilities for preventive measures until it is too late. In a new study, researchers examined how accessible medical centers are for Americans that suffer from a stroke. They found that even though most people have relatively easy access to a hospital that can treat acute stroke, many stroke patients are not recommended or informed to seek out these treatments.

For this study, the researchers examined over 370,000 Medicare stroke claims in 2011. Out of this sample set, the researchers reported that only four percent of the stroke patients received tPA, which is a drug treatment that can greatly reduce disability caused by stroke if administered within three to four hours after the first stroke symptoms manifested. The team also discovered that only 0.5 percent of the patients underwent endovascular therapy, which helps reopen any clogged arteries that could treat stroke and reduce future risk of stroke.

The researchers found that within one hour's worth of driving, 81 percent of the people had access to a hospital that administers tPA. 66 percent could reach a primary stroke center and 56 percent could get to a hospital that can carry out endovascular therapy. The researchers stated that by air transportation, 97 percent of the people could reach a tPA hospital within the hour. 91 percent could get to a stroke center and 85 percent could receive endovascular therapy at an equipped hospital.

"If a patient suspects they are having a stroke, they need to call 9-1-1 immediately and get to the nearest stroke center as soon as possible, which might mean bypassing another hospital that isn't set up to deliver the necessary therapy," said Opeolu Adeoye, M.D., M.S., the study's lead author and associate professor of emergency medicine and neurosurgery at the University of Cincinnati. "We strongly suggest that patients go to the hospital by ambulance, that they or whoever is with them ask to go to a stroke center and ask for tPA."

The findings were presented at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2014.

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