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Stroke patients not getting diagnosed

May 4, 2012 at 1:07 AM

ROCHESTER, N.Y., May 4 (UPI) -- A study of 40,777 stroke patients found 42 percent underwent brain imaging within the recommended 25 minutes of hospital arrival, researchers say.

Lead author Dr. Adam Kelly, a neurologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center, said brain imaging is an essential tool in the diagnosis of a stroke and determines which treatment to pursue. Strokes caused by a blockage in one of the arteries that serve the brain -- ischemic strokes -- are candidates for the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator, which can restore blood flow and improve clinical outcomes.

However, this drug cannot be used when the symptoms are instead caused by a ruptured blood vessel in the brain.

"It is therefore essential that physicians are able to 'see' what is occurring in the brain, and quickly," Kelly said in a statement. "We were struck by the fact that less than half of patients with acute stroke symptoms did not receive a brain scan within recommended guidelines."

The study published in the journal Stroke found individuals were less likely to receive timely brain scans if:

-- The patient did not arrive at the hospital by ambulance.

-- The patients were not white.

-- The patients had certain risk factors for stroke such as diabetes, a prior history of stroke, were age 75 and older and peripheral vascular disease.

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