Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blacks missing out on critical early treatment for strokes

The reasons are unclear, but an important story recently highlighted how blacks are missing out on critical early treatment for strokes:
The study found that on average it took 339 minutes for Blacks to visit the emergency room for stroke treatment as opposed to 151 minutes for Whites. Delaying treatment can result in the death of vital brain cells.
“It has been estimated that nearly two million neurons die per minute during a stroke,” said Sheryl Martin-Schild, M.D., Ph.D., the study’s lead author. “Intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IV tPA) is the only treatment during the acute phase of a stroke, the first 4.5 hours, proven to improve outcome in controlled clinical trials.” Because IV tPA treatment breaks down the clots that obstruct blood flow inside the brain, delaying treatment within that narrow time frame puts patients at greater risk of permanent neurological damage.

The study, which followed 368 patients with a median age of 65 years, sought to identify racial disparities and the reasons for varying delays between symptom onset and emergency room treatment. While the study found that Blacks and Whites received the same treatment once they arrived at the emergency room, reasons for the delay were not clear.
Time is critical. If you or someone in your presence seem to have stroke signs, get that person help right away.

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