What is the goal for the emergent management of ischemic stroke?

Updated: May 27, 2020
  • Author: Edward C Jauch, MD, MS, FAHA, FACEP; Chief Editor: Helmi L Lutsep, MD  more...
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The goal for the emergent management of stroke is to assess the patient’s airway, breathing, and circulation (ABCs); stabilize the patient as necessary; and complete initial evaluation and assessment, including imaging and laboratory studies, within 60 minutes of patient arrival. [1] A Finnish study demonstrated that time to treatment with fibrinolytics can be decreased with changes in EMS and ED coordination and in ED procedures for treating acute stroke patients. [79]

A US study in which a multidisciplinary team used value stream analysis to assess the steps required to treat acute ischemic stroke with IV rt-PA found several inefficiencies in the protocol (eg, in patient routing) that were slowing treatment. Use of a revised protocol that targeted those inefficiencies reduced door-to-needle times from 60 to 39 minutes and increased the percentage of patients treated in 60 minutes or less after hospital arrival from 52% to 78%, with no change in symptomatic hemorrhage rate. [80]

Critical decisions focus on the need for airway management, establishment of optimal blood pressure control, and identification of potential reperfusion therapies (IV fibrinolysis with rt-PA or intra-arterial approaches). Involvement of a physician with stroke expertise is ideal. Stroke care units with specially trained personnel exist and improve outcomes.

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