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Administering stroke treatment quickly can save lives, study says

June 19, 2013

Strokes are one of the biggest threats to healthy aging. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 795,000 people experience a stroke each year, and approximately 130,000 of them die as a result. While these are certainly troubling statistics, a quick response to stroke often greatly increases the chances of survival, and results of a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals just how true that is. 

It comes down to minutes
The study was based on an extensive analysis of nearly 60,000 stroke patients, and researchers determined that intervals as short as 15 minutes can make a significant difference. Specifically, they found that for every 15-minute reduction in the time it took for patients to receive thrombolytic treatment, which breaks up blood clots, they experienced a lower mortality risk, better mobility and a greater chance of being discharged from the hospital.

"These findings support intensive efforts to accelerate patient presentation and to streamline regional and hospital systems of acute stroke care to compress onset to treatment times," the authors, from UCLA's David Geffen School of Medicine, wrote. 

One piece of the puzzle
Reducing the time it takes to receive treatment is a significant aspect of limiting the impact of stroke, but it is only one factor to consider. Stroke patients' journey to recovery is not over once they are discharged from the hospital, and there are often considerable challenges associated with strokes, including trouble with once simple tasks such as walking and swallowing.

Assisted living and long term care facilities can both play a significant role in helping seniors regain their independence following a stroke, according to Rehabilitation specialists can make sure stoke patients get the treatment they need, such as medication or physical therapy, all while assisting with activities of daily living. 

Be proactive
Of course, the best way to survive strokes is to prevent them before they occur. According to the National Stroke Association, about 80 percent of strokes can be prevented, many of them through common behaviors of a healthy lifestyle for seniors. Specifically, exercise and diet are the best options, the NSA notes. Even a brisk walk for 30 minutes a day can have a substantial impact. Furthermore, eating fruits, vegetables and other foods that are low in fat is essential.