"That's why we need a system to better implement the advances that have been achieved," he said. "We tend to fixate on our own arena as either clinicians or administrators. We can each sharpen our own tools to advance stroke care, but until the many tools in the toolbox work together, we aren't optimizing our collective skills. That's what stroke systems will do."
Among suggestions in the blueprint, health professionals should identify the acute stroke treatment capabilities and limitations of all hospitals in a state or region and make that information available to primary care providers, emergency services and the public.
"This is a non-partisan document," Schwamm said. "It is not about making the teaching hospitals even more comprehensive in their stroke care. This is about equal access for all citizens to high-quality stroke care. It's critical to leverage technology to make the stroke expertise available to all, regardless of their geography or economic circumstances. If you're poor and live near a poor hospital, you shouldn't be deprived of high-quality stroke care just because your hospital can't afford or can't attract a dedicated on-site stroke neurologist."
This blueprint ideally will promote greater efficiency of care as well as the more effective application of acute treatment and secondary prevention -- such as getting people on cholesterol-lowering drugs; controlling high blood pressure, diabetes and weight; and telling them of the importance of quitting smoking and increasing exercise. This should lower the total burden of recu
Contact: Carole Bullock
American Heart Association