Rapid referral boosts rates of thrombolysis

Patients with symptoms that could indicate stroke should be referred to secondary care without delay, GPs were advised.

Professor Kennedy Lees, professor of cerebrovascular medicine at the University of Glasgow and director of the stroke unit at the city's Western Infirmary, told the conference that only about 300 stroke patients received thrombolytic therapy last year, out of 300,000 new cases in the UK.

He said that most delay occurs before symptomatic patients consult their GP. But he added that rapid referral could still significantly increase the number of patients eligible for thrombolysis, which is effective only in the three hours immediately after the onset of symptoms.

'It is important to stress to patients that they must go to hospital, and that secondary care management can help recovery and prevent further strokes,' Professor Lees said.

He wants at least one in 20 people who have a stroke to be treated with thrombolytic therapy. He added that patients with TIAs were the most likely not to receive early treatment even though they presented with clear-cut symptoms and had a very high risk of stroke (see box).

GPletters@haynet.com

TIA: the signs
- Focal problem.
- Sudden onset, gradual resolution.
- Existing cardiovascular risk factors.
- Numbness.
- Visual disturbances.

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