Stroke Care – A Fight Against Time

Iridia has worked with various stroke care initiatives over the years, specifically on the Stroke Protocols and Guidelines throughout the province of BC.

Our president, Dr. Allan Holmes was a lead consultant on the creation of the BC Stroke Strategy and the Clinical Leadership Statement for Acute Stroke Management.

Stroke Care

Stroke Care 

The BC Stroke Strategy identified current “gaps” in stroke care and outlines key areas of focus. One of which, is necessary brain imaging. The current idea that there is a gap in brain imaging is also backed by a recent study in the American journal Stroke.

The study found less than 50 percent of stroke patients undergo necessary brain imaging within the recommended 25 minutes of their arrival at a hospital.

Read the original study here

In stroke care, there is an ongoing battle against time. “Time is brain” goes the old stroke care mantra. With each minute that goes by, more and more brain cells are permanently lost. It is vital that individuals receive a timely diagnosis through brain imaging.

“We were struck by the fact that less than half of patients with acute stroke symptoms did not receive a brain scan within recommended guidelines,” says University of Rochester Medical Center neurologist Adam Kelly, lead author of the study.

“This was the performance of hospitals who are actively participating in a national quality improvement program, so rates in non-participating hospitals may be even worse.”

Why is brain imaging so important in stroke care? It allows physicians to “see” what is occurring in the brain. A diagnosis will determine what treatment options are available. For example, the physician may see that the clot can be tackled using clot-busting drugs. Unfortunately, clot-busting drugs often need to be administered as soon as possible and can lose effectiveness after a few hours.

Stroke Care

The study also found that individuals were less likely to receive timely brain scans if they:

  • Did not arrive at the hospital by ambulance (47 percent less likely)
  • Had certain known risk factors for stroke such as diabetes, a prior history of stroke, over 75 years old, and peripheral vascular disease.

“Despite the strides that have been made in stroke care, it is clear that there is significant room for improvement in the evaluation of patients suspected of stroke,” says Kelly. “Time is too precious and hospitals cannot be the reason for delay.”

In our own backyard, stroke care has become an area of focus. Over the past five years, British Columbia has recognized the importance of stroke care and the related economic burden.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation in partnership with many organizations, including Iridia, have come together to identify the gaps in stroke care and put in place a strategic direction for improving stroke care in BC.

Heart and Stroke 2011 Annual Report

Year after year the Heart and Stroke Foundation, with support from 130,000 Canadians around the country, is able to invest in ground-breaking research, prevention efforts and advocates healthy change across Canada.

heart and stroke

In British Columbia alone:

  • 24 Foundation funded researchers are investigating new treatments against heart disease and stroke
  • 33 new research projects have been funded
  • A BC Stroke Strategy has been developed
  • A provincial awareness campaign for improved recognition of stroke has been launched

In the 59 years of the Foundation’s existence, the mortality rate for cardiovascular disease has decreased by 25%. And yet, still, close to 250,000 potential years of life are lost every year heart disease. Heart disease and stroke still take 1 in 3 Canadians before their time.

A 25% decrease is very impressive, but there is always more we can do as early onset of heart disease and stroke is 80% preventable.

Even one campaign can leave a lasting impression. For example, in 2011 The Heart Truth campaign helped make Canadian women aware of their leading cause of death; heart disease and stroke. Awareness grew by 12 percentage points among women 35 and older.

Stroke Strategy

After working with the Heart and Stroke Foundation on various stroke related projects, we at Iridia understand their importance. Research funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation can lead to various projects that that aim to deliver better health care to Canadians. 

Mentioned above, the new British Columbia Stroke Strategy is a key initiative to hit a major milestone in 2011. For the past few years, Iridia has been working with the Heart and Stroke foundation on the development of BC’s Stroke Strategy.

BC stroke strategy - Heart and Stroke

The care stroke survivors received within forty-eight hours after their stroke has a tremendous impact on the length and quality of their recovery. The immediate recognition and treatment of stroke is imperative.

For the first time, a province-wide strategy is in place to improve the prevention and treatment of stroke in BC’s health care system.

According to Pam Aikman, Provincial Director of Stroke Services BC at the Provincial Health Services Authority, “This is a milestone year for stroke care in BC. Thanks to the tireless work by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, we have been able to launch Stroke Services BC, and have a solid plan for implementing ongoing improvements to stroke care here in BC.”

Iridia is proud to have worked with the Heart and Stroke Foundation in the development of the BC Stroke Strategy. We will stand alongside the Foundation in the step-by-step fight against heart disease and stroke.

Learn more about the stoke care strategy: signsofstroke

View the annual report: H&S2011

Visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation: HeartandStroke