Tuesday, January 18, 2011

New Guidelines Released for Improved Care and Treatment of Stroke Patients

New recommendations for faster diagnosis of stroke and improved care of patients has just been released by The American Heart Association together with its sister organization, The American Stroke Association. The new measures encompass both ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke and were devised with the objective of standardizing the level of care among stroke centers, while improving the quality of care received by stroke patients.

Studies have shown that rapid response in the diagnosis and treament of stroke victims is the key to saving lives. Stroke is a life-threatening condition involving the sudden death of brain cells. Of the two types of stroke, ischemic stroke accounts for 87 percent of all stroke cases and occurs as the result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain and occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures. There are two types of weakened blood vessels, known as aneurysms and arteriovenous malformations (AVMs) that commonly cause hemorrhagic stroke.

A study headed by Dr. Dana Leifer, associate professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College and neurologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center suggested new guidelines for achieving improved quality of care at stroke centers. Leifer and his colleagues developed the new measures after performing an extensive review of previously published papers regarding the most effective treatments and their outcomes among patients having suffered severe stroke.

The new recommendations include:
  • Tracking the percentage of ischemic stroke patients who are eligible to receive tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and are treated with the drug within an hour of presenting at the hospital. (TPA is the only FDA-approved drug for the treatment of acute ischemic stroke in eligible patients).
  • Tracking the time from patient hospitalization to receipt of treatment to repair blood vessels when a ruptured aneurysm in involved.
  • Performing a 90-day follow-up to assess the outcomes for ischemic stroke patients having acute interventions, including tPA treatment.
It was noted by Leifer that “using the metrics as part of quality improvement efforts, over time hospitals should be able to improve the quality of the care that they give and improve patient outcomes.” Another life-saving guideline is to take steps for stroke prevention. Although there are some risk factors for stroke that cannot be controlled, such as age, gender, race and family history, there are many risk factors that can be controlled. Among these are physical inactivity, obesity, alcohol use, tobacco use and smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. A good start for stroke prevention is to practice a heart-healthy lifestyle that includes getting a sufficient amount of exercise and eating a healthy diet.

Source: Healthnews.By Drucilla Dyess

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