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Stroke. 2003 Jun;34(6):e55-7. Epub 2003 May 15.

Impact of establishing a primary stroke center at a community hospital on the use of thrombolytic therapy: the NINDS Suburban Hospital Stroke Center experience.

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Stroke Branch, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 10 Center Dr, MSC 1063, Building 10, Room B1D733, Bethesda, Md 20892-1063, USA.



To increase the proportion of ischemic stroke patients treated with thrombolytic therapy, the establishment of primary stroke centers in community hospitals has been advocated. We evaluated the use of thrombolytic therapy before and after institution of a primary stroke center in a community hospital.


The availability of an on-call stroke emergency response team was the only significant additional resource required for this hospital. All eligible patients were treated with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA). The number of patients with cerebrovascular disease, number and proportion of patients treated with tPA, times to treatment, and patient outcomes were recorded during the first 2 years of the stroke center.


During the 12 months before institution of the stroke center, 3 ischemic stroke patients (1.5%) were treated with tPA. During the 2-year period of around-the-clock coverage, 44 of 420 ischemic stroke patients (10.5%) were treated with intravenous tPA, a significant increase in tPA use (P<0.0001).


Establishment of a primary stroke center at a community hospital resulted in a substantial increase in the proportion of patients receiving thrombolytic therapy for ischemic stroke. If this experience is generalized, the beneficial impact of primary stroke centers on stroke outcomes and costs to the healthcare system may be substantial.

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