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Guidance on optimal stroke treatment covers systems of care

Friday August 30, 2013
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Several key elements in systems of care can reduce stroke deaths and disabilities, according to a policy statement by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

The policy statement, published Aug. 29 on the website of the journal Stroke, addresses patients’ care from the time stroke symptoms are identified through rehabilitation

Stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the U.S., according to the association. Someone dies of a stroke every four minutes.

Recommendations include:

• Develop public education programs to improve awareness of stroke symptoms and the need to call 9-1-1 to get to the hospital quickly for treatment;

• Ensure EMS personnel can quickly assess stroke patients and get them to the hospital with appropriate care within 15 to 20 minutes;

• Establish protocols to optimize the transfer of patients between hospitals offering different levels of care and within the different units of a hospital;

• Support the certification of stroke centers that follow treatment guidelines designed to improve patient care and outcomes;

• Use telemedicine, especially in rural areas, to ensure patients have 24/7 access to consultation and care.

The association also calls for patients to have access to post-stroke care, including rehabilitation and nursing services, regardless of their financial status or socioeconomic background.

The authors of the statement also address issues related to adequate reimbursement for stroke treatment and care and the need for quality improvement and public reporting initiatives.

Policy statement: http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2013/08/29/STR.0b013e3182a6d2b2.full.pdf.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association supports and helps develop stroke systems of care. The association certifies stroke centers (http://bit.ly/zY84nO) and provides many quality improvement tools for healthcare providers (http://bit.ly/bm4hyM) and resources to help people learn more about stroke hospitals in their communities.


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