Study finds jump in patients receiving clot-busting drug within “golden hour.”
Administering a clot-dissolving drug to stroke victims quickly — ideally within the first 60 minutes after they arrive at a hospital emergency room — is crucial to saving their lives, preserving their brain function and reducing disability.
Given intravenously, tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) is currently the only Food and Drug Administration–approved therapy shown to improve outcomes for patients suffering acute ischemic stroke, which affects some 800,000 Americans annually.
Now, a UCLA-led study demonstrates that hospitals participating in the “Target: Stroke” national quality-improvement program have markedly increased the speed with which they treat stroke patients with tPA. Researchers looked at more than 1,000 hospitals participating in the initiative, which was conceived by UCLA faculty and is conducted in collaboration with the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
The findings of the study are published in today’s (April 23) issue of JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The researchers report that at participating hospitals, the average time it took to deliver tPA to patients fell from 74 minutes to 59 minutes. This speedier treatment, they said, was accompanied by improved outcomes, including reduced mortality, fewer treatment complications and a greater likelihood that patients would go home after leaving the hospital instead of being referred to a skilled nursing facility for advanced rehabilitation.
“These findings reinforce the importance and clinical benefits of faster administration of intravenous tPA. Through this national initiative, more patients were able to be treated with this beneficial therapy and in a safer, more effective fashion,” said first author Dr. Gregg C. Fonarow, UCLA’s Eliot Corday Professor of Cardiovascular Medicine and Science and director of the Ahmanson–UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.