Stroke drug grossly underused, experts say
The Globe and Mail
07 February 2005
TPA remains the sole drug approved for strokes. Yet only about 3 per cent of victims get it.
Usually that's because they don't seek help until it's too late for the drug to do any good — three hours after symptoms start.
However, fresh research documents disturbing problems that keep this lifesaving treatment from reaching the roughly one in five stroke victims who do seek help in time. Studies presented at an American Stroke Association conference last week found that:
— Operators answering phones at hospitals often don't recognize stroke symptoms and discourage callers from coming in for help.
— Ambulances routinely take people to the nearest hospital instead of one with the necessary equipment and expertise to give TPA.
— Emergency room doctors are afraid of the drug's potentially serious side effects, and are unwilling to use it even when test results clearly show they should.
— Even specialized stroke centres designed to speed the drug to patients are missing many chances to get it right.
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