CLEVELAND – About two million brain cells die each minute during a stroke, which is why quick treatment is critical when a stroke is suspected.
Now, new research shows when a high-tech stroke ambulance, known as a mobile stroke unit, arrives on the scene, stroke victims are diagnosed and treated faster.
Andrew Russman, D.O., Medical Director of Cleveland Clinic’s Comprehensive Stroke Center, led the study. He said results also show people treated on the mobile stroke unit fare better, 90 days later, than those transported by a regular ambulance to an emergency department.
“This 90-day outcome of stroke is just an important measure to understand how effectively we treated you up front, and how did it effect you in terms of your disability down the road,” he said. “And this was showed to be better on a mobile stroke treatment unit, than it was on a traditional ambulance,” he said.
Dr. Russman and his colleagues studied data from people who were transported to the hospital by ambulance after suffering a stroke.
Some were taken on the mobile stroke unit, while others were transported in a traditional ambulance to the emergency department.
Results show people treated on the mobile stroke unit received medicine to stop their stroke more than 30 minutes earlier than people treated in the emergency department.
Dr. Russman said faster treatment means less damage to the brain and less disability afterward.
A mobile stroke unit is essentially a stroke emergency room on wheels.
It’s equipped with a specially trained medical team, a CT scan for instant brain images, and a video conference system to allow hospital-based doctors to evaluate a patient in real time.
Mobile stoke units also provide the opportunity to give ‘clot busting’ medicine to stop a stroke caused by a blockage; or diagnose and transport a patient to the most appropriate medical facility if they’re having a stroke caused by bleeding.
Only a handful of communities across the country have access to a mobile stroke unit, but Dr. Russman said folks should never hesitate to call 911 if a stroke is suspected.
“If you call 911, they may be able to activate a mobile stroke unit to come to your doorstep to take care of you in front of your home, so we can start treatment for your stroke right away, instead of waiting until you get to the emergency department and that’s what we showed in the study as being critically important,” said Dr. Russman.
Complete results of the study were presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Philadelphia.