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Survey Finds Increasing Popularity Of Acute Stroke Teams In U.S. Hospitals

ORLANDO, FLA. -- In the past, the brain and heart have received different treatment, at least when it comes to emergencies.

When "code blue" teams rush to someone having a heart attack, their goal is to jump-start the heart to re-establish blood flow to the brain. Such teams have been hospital staples for years; however, the emergence of similar teams to help patients suffering from an equally deadly problem -- stroke -- is only an emerging phenomenon.

It is also a trend that should have started years earlier, according to a Duke University Medical Center neurologist.

"It only makes sense for a team to respond just as quickly to a brain attack as a heart attack -- the goal in both is to begin treatment as soon as possible to minimize the damage to the brain," said Dr. Mark Alberts, who in 1995 called for the creation of acute stroke teams (AST) in a paper in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

ASTs are staffed by specially trained physicians and/or nurses who respond immediately to cases of suspected stroke, whether occurring in patients already in the hospital or newly arrived in the emergency room. More than 500,000 Americans will suffer a stroke each year. Of those, approximately 150,000 will die, making stroke the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of disability.

With the usage of new clot-busting drugs, which, when given within the first three hours of the onset of stroke can reduce and in some cases eliminate the negative impact of stroke, it is crucial to have well-trained teams that can respond quickly to stroke patients.

To determine how the concept has been received in the medical community, Alberts and his colleagues in the National Acute Stroke Team Group conducted a nationwide survey, the results of which were prepared for presentation Thursday (Feb. 5) at the American Heart Association's 23rd International Joint Conference on Cerebral Circulation and Stroke
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Contact: Richard Merritt
Merri006@mc.duke.edu
919-684-4148
Duke University Medical Center
5-Feb-1998


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