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An Intermountain Health study examines how to treat stroke patients more quickly

A new study published by neurologists and implementation scientists at Intermountain Health examined stroke care protocols across a multihospital system.

Strokes result from lack of oxygen to the brain, causing brain cells to die and then causing permanent neurologic damage,” said Kathleen McKee, a neurologist at Intermountain Health and one of the authors of the study. She said ischemic strokes, which are caused by blood clots, can be treated with a medication that breaks up the clot and restores blood flow to the brain.

“Once we discovered scientifically how to do this, the challenge became how do we do this for everyone?" McKee said. "How do we make sure that we can get this clot-busting medication to everybody?”

Kristy Veale, clinical program director at Intermountain Health and another author on the study, said when it comes to treating strokes, time is of the essence.

“32,000 brain cells are dying a second. So, the faster we can return blood flow to that area where the clot is blocking that … the better off the patient will be with less disability,” Veale said.

McKee said the goal of this study was to reduce the time it takes for a patient to receive care after arriving at the hospital.

“Our hospitals differ widely in terms of geography, resources, staffing, equipment," McKee said. "And so, the idea here is that we want to provide the same high-quality stroke care to anyone whether they walk through the door of Intermountain Medical Center or Delta Regional Hospital."

Veale said if you are experiencing stroke symptoms, get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

“Don't stop and say, 'Oh, I'll give this a couple of hours. And if I don't feel better, I'll go back in.' Don't wait for your neighbor to come and pick you up. Call 911 and let's get an ambulance there and bring you right into the hospital," Veale said.

Caroline Long is a science reporter at UPR. She is curious about the natural world and passionate about communicating her findings with others. As a PhD student in Biology at Utah State University, she spends most of her time in the lab or at the coyote facility, studying social behavior. In her free time, she enjoys making art, listening to music, and hiking.