Background and Purpose-: The publication of the European Cooperative Acute Stroke Study (ECASS III) expanded the treatment time to thrombolysis for acute ischemic stroke from 3 to 4.5 hours from symptom onset. The impact of the expanded time window on treatment rates has not been comprehensively evaluated in a population-based study. Methods-: All patients with an ischemic stroke presenting to an emergency department during calendar year 2005 in the 17 hospitals that compromise the large 1.3 million Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky population were included in the analysis. Criteria for exclusion from thrombolytic therapy are analyzed retrospectively for both the standard and expanded timeframes with varying door-to-needle times. Results-: During the study period, 1838 ischemic strokes presenting to an emergency department were identified. A small proportion of them arrived in the expanded time window (3.4%) compared with the standard time window (22%). Only 0.5% of those who arrived in this timeframe met eligibility criteria for thrombolysis compared with 5.9% using standard eligibility criteria in the standard timeframe. These Results did not vary significantly by repeated analysis varying the door-to-needle time or the expanded time window's exclusion criteria. Conclusions-: In reality, the expanded time window for thrombolysis in acute ischemic stroke benefits few patients. If we are to improve recombinant tissue-type plasminogen activator administration rates, our focus should be on improving stroke awareness, transport to facilities with ability to administer thrombolysis, and familiarity of physicians with acute stroke treatment guidelines.
- acute stroke
- stroke care