Monday, August 02, 2010

Drug isn't always used to battle a stroke

Another strong reason to make yourself aware of stroke signs and symptoms, plus what to do if it happens to yourself or someone you know. Even if you get to the right place in time, proper treatment is still not a guarantee, as this article illustrated.

Drug that could stop stroke isn't always used:
While a growing number of hospitals boast that they are equipped to use the clot-dissolving drug, they don't always do so, a Journal Sentinel investigation found. And the organization that certifies those hospitals as stroke centers doesn't require that they actually offer the drug to eligible patients.

The clot-dissolving agent, known as tissue plasminogen activator, or t-PA, is the only approved drug for treating a stroke by stopping it and significantly reducing the risk of disability.

Yet the number of patients who get t-PA has remained dismally low, about 5% of all stroke patients, ever since the drug was approved 14 years ago. Much of that is because patients fail to recognize their symptoms and get to the hospital within the 4 ½ -hour window during which the drug can be administered.

It is not all the fault of patients.

This is a great and informative article about stroke centers and stroke treatment, or, too often, the lack thereof.

Is every stroke patient a candidate for this drug?. No. That's why we want training of health professionals so they'll do the best job they can do. It's also illustrates the importance of the need for advocates for patients. Often, the patient can't speak clearly or isn't completely lucid after a stroke. That's why it's so important for someone to be able to speak on the patient's behalf.

Take this story as a valuable lesson on those two points.

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