Health Team

Specialized stroke centers provide better patient care

Posted January 25, 2011 3:08 p.m. EST
Updated January 27, 2011 5:38 p.m. EST

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States.

Out of 5,000 acute care hospitals nationwide, nearly 700 are designated stroke centers. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that stroke centers provided better care for their patients. 

Paul Stacy is doing well now, but just two days ago his outlook was quite different.

"I was getting disillusioned, nothing was making sense and I was getting weak on the left side," he said.

It was a stroke – and every second counts when it comes to getting treatment. EMS workers decided to bypass a closer hospital, so they could get Stacy to a designated stroke center, one with specialized medical teams that can quickly evaluate and treat patients efficiently.

"Those doctors, nurses and health providers, work together they provide an integrated and organized care to stroke patients," said Ying Xian, M.D., Ph.D. at Duke Clinical Research Institute.

Xian and other researchers examined data from almost 31,000 patients in New York state who were admitted to designated and non-designated stroke centers in one year with an acute ischemic stroke, caused by a blood clot in the brain.

"Patients who are treated at stroke centers (could have) at least 2.5 percent lower risk of death than other patients in non-certified hospitals," Xian said.

The study showed that patients treated at stroke centers have a better chance of receiving drug therapy to dissolve the clot and minimize damage to the brain.