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US Stroke Response Medical Network In Need Of Overhaul: Medical Experts Discuss How

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People are advised to call 911 immediately if they think someone is getting a stroke. Medical experts suggest that stroke response time in the U.S. should be improved as many people cannot have quick access to their nearest stroke center when needed.

Dr. Michael Mullen at the University of Pennsylvania, who is also the study author, suggests that treatment of strokes are quite time sensitive. It is very important to start stoke treatment as early as possible to avoid further complications.

However, more than 33 percent of Americans will be left without optimum healthcare as stroke centers are located at a distance from many people and it can take a while to reach the nearest stroke center.

"Research has shown that specialized stroke care has the potential to reduce death and disability," says Dr. Mullen. "Stroke is a time-critical disease. Each second after a stroke begins, brain cells die, so it is critically important that specialized stroke care be rapidly accessible to the population."

Dr. Mullen suggests that it is ideal for a person to reach the nearest stroke center in 60 minutes or less. Using air transportation such as helicopter may get many stroke patients to their nearest stroke centers quickly, but it will still not provide quick access to many other Americans.

The researchers of the study developed a computer-based model to understand the estimated time taken by stroke patients to reach a stroke center.

The study suggests that in 2010 there were 811 Primary Stroke Centers (PSCs) and no Comprehensive Stroke Centers (CSCs) in the U.S. The researchers of the study converted about 20 PSCs to CSCs in each state and assessed the time taken by local people to access the treatment facilities via ambulances or air transportation under optimum conditions.

The study found that after the conversion about 63 percent of the people would have access to a CSC within 60 minutes if they used road transportation. An additional 23 percent will reach a CSC within 60 minutes via a helicopter.

The researchers highlight that even under optimum condition, many people will still be left out for swift access to their nearest stroke center. The condition will be worse in the absence of optimum conditions.

The study stresses that prehospital service providers such as ambulance services should understand the important of stroke and the swiftness required to move a patient to the nearest stroke center.

Medical experts suggest that people should be aware of stroke symptoms to improve the stroke response time. People can experience weakness or numbness on their face, leg or arm when experiencing a stroke. People who suffer from a stroke may also find it difficult to speak or understand what others are saying. A person may have vision problems in one or both eyes during a stroke. Medical experts also suggest that many people are not aware but a severe headache is also a symptom of a stroke. 

If anyone experiences such symptoms they should immediately inform others around and seek medical attention. Friends, family, co-workers and more should also try and understand these symptoms in others around them so that they can call for medical help as soon as possible.

The researchers suggest that the latest study is important as stroke affects thousands of people in the U.S. each year. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that about 800,000 people in the U.S. suffer from stroke each year. Around 610,000 people suffer from stroke for the first time each year. Stroke also kills about 130,000 people in America per year.

The study has been published in the journal Neurology. 

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