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New Study Outlines How Stroke Care can Improve

Update Date: Apr 24, 2014 03:25 PM EDT

For patients suffering from a stroke, how fast he or she can get medical care is vital for overall health. Despite knowing that time is of the essence, not many stroke patients end up getting medical care on time. In a new study, researchers stated that the findings from a project called Target : Stroke could be key in improving stroke care.

Target: Stroke, which was launched by the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association in 2010, singled out hospitals that were able to administer a specific clot-clearing drug called tPA within an hour to at least 50 percent of the patients. When tPA is given in under 60 minutes, it can help reduce the risks of brain damage or death caused by the stroke. These hospitals were a part of the initiative with the motto "Time lost is brain lost."

"We saw a very clear impact of the program in the speed at which tPA was delivered," said study author Dr. Gregg Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, co-director of the UCLA Preventative Cardiology Program and associate chief of the UCLA Division of Cardiology according to WebMD. "It's rare that you see such a change in results before and after an initiative."

The data included 1,030 hospitals and more than 70,000 patients. The researchers found that over the past four years, door-to-needle treatment fell from 74 minutes to 59 minutes. The rate of patients who received medical care within the hour increased from around one-third to a little over half. Deaths that occurred in the hospital fell from 9.9 percent to 8.3 percent.

One of the key ways that allowed hospitals to give treatment within the "golden hour" was the use of ambulance calls. When the ambulance staff informed the hospital about an incoming stroke patient, the hospital became better equipped at rushing the patient to get a CT scan and medication after if needed.

"This is something that every hospital would be able to do," said Dr. Fonarow reported by NPR.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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