Public Release: 

UCLA Stroke Center receives American Stroke Association's Initial Achievement Award

Center implements ASA's standards to improve patient care and save lives

University of California - Los Angeles

The UCLA Stroke Center recently received the American Stroke Association's Get With The Guidelines-Stroke Initial Performance Achievement Award.

The award recognizes UCLA's commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations.

"With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, and the GWTG-Stroke Initial Performance Achievement Award addresses the important element of time," said Dr. Jeffrey Saver, professor of neurology and co-director of the UCLA Stroke Center.

UCLA has developed a comprehensive system for rapid diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients admitted to the emergency department. This includes being equipped 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to provide brain imaging scans; having neurologists available to conduct patient evaluations; and using clot-busting medications when appropriate.

To receive the award, the UCLA Stroke Center consistently complied for 90 days with the requirements in the GWTG-Stroke program. These include aggressive use of medications like tPA, antithrombotics, anticoagulation therapy, DVT prophylaxis (prevention of deep-vein thrombosis or clots), cholesterol reducing drugs and smoking cessation. The 90-day evaluation period is the first in an ongoing self-evaluation by the hospital to continually reach the 85 percent compliance level needed to sustain this award.

"The American Stroke Association commends the UCLA Stroke Center for its success in implementing standards of care and protocols," said Dr. Lee H. Schwamm, national GWTG steering committee member and director of acute stroke services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. "The full implementation of acute care and secondary prevention recommendations and guidelines is a critical step in saving the lives and improving outcomes of stroke patients." GWTG-Stroke uses the "teachable moment," the time soon after a patient has had an acute event when they are most likely to listen to and follow their health care professionals' guidance. Studies demonstrate that patients who are taught how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their risk of a second heart attack or stroke. Through GWTG-Stroke, customized patient education materials are made available at the point of discharge, based on patients' individual risk profiles. The take-away materials are written in an easy-to-understand format and are available in English and Spanish. In addition, the program's online patient management tool provides access to up-to-date cardiovascular and stroke science at the point of care.

"The time is right for UCLA to be focused on improving the quality of stroke care by implementing GWTG-Stroke," Saver said. "The number of acute ischemic stroke patients eligible for treatment is expected to grow over the next decade due to increasing stroke incidence and a large aging population."

Each year, about 700,000 people suffer a stroke -- 500,000 are first attacks and 200,000 are recurrent. Of stroke survivors, 22 percent of men and 25 percent of women die within a year, and for those age 65 and older, the percentage is even higher. In 1999, $3.4 billion was paid to Medicare beneficiaries discharged from short-stay hospitals for stroke. Americans are estimated to pay about $56.8 billion in 2005 for stroke-related medical costs and disability.

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The American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, is a committed leader in providing credible stroke information to individuals and health care providers.

Recognized as one of the world's leading centers for the management of cerebral vascular disease, the UCLA Stroke Center treats simple and complex vascular disorders by incorporating recent developments in emergency medicine, stroke neurology, microneurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology, stereotactic radiology, neurointensive care, neuroanesthesiology and rehabilitation neurology. This program is unique in its ability to integrate clinical and research activities across multiple disciplines and leading departments. A center without walls, the UCLA Stroke Center was founded in 1994. For more information on the center and links to information about stroke signs and prevention, please visit www.stroke.ucla.edu.

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