(HealthDay News) — Fewer people are being treated in U.S. emergency departments for ischemic stroke or transient ischemic attack, which experts read as a sign that current stroke prevention methods are working. Such visits declined 35% for adults ≥18, and 51% for those 55–74, according to a March data brief published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).
The CDC report also contained evidence that doctors are providing more comprehensive care for stroke victims. For example, doctors more frequently used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans to evaluate a patient who came to the emergency department with signs of a blood-clot stroke, the CDC report found. The percentage of emergency department stroke visits that involved an MRI or CT scan increased 39% between 2001–2011, according to the researchers.
Such scans are important prior to giving patients powerful clot-busting medications that can quickly treat a stroke and prevent further brain damage, lead author Anjali Talwalkar, MD, MPH, a medical officer with the NCHS, told HealthDay. “These scans are definitely a critical piece of care for a stroke.” And, more patients are being admitted into a hospital or transferred to another facility after showing up in an emergency department for stroke. The number of admissions or transfers increased 10% between 2001–2011, according to the report.
Not all the news from the CDC report was positive, however. The researchers also found that fewer people are arriving at the emergency department by ambulance after suffering stroke symptoms. The percentage of ambulance-transported stroke patients <75 decreased 41% between 2004–2011.