A stroke happens in the U.S. every 40 seconds. It can be an ischemic stroke, when a clot blocks blood supply to the brain, or a hemorrhagic stroke, where a blood vessel inside the brain bursts. Even though bleeding brain strokes account for only 13 percent of the 800,000 stroke-related hospitalizations each year, the mortality rate is 40 to 50 percent, making it the much more serious type.
If you or a loved one is having a stroke, the best chance for survival and a return to independent living is to be treated at a comprehensive stroke center. This is particularly true if you are experiencing a bleeding brain stroke, according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.
Comprehensive stroke center designation
The American Heart Association, in conjunction with The Joint Commission, accredits comprehensive stroke centers. Although there are many very good community hospitals, doctors and nurses, when it comes to stroke treatment, not all hospitals are equipped to deliver the quality of specialized care found at a comprehensive stroke center.
Only those hospitals capable of receiving and treating the most severe or complex stroke cases are certified as a comprehensive stroke center. UC Irvine Medical Center was the first hospital in Orange County to achieve the comprehensive stroke center designation.
Our team of specialists include fellowship-trained cerebrovascular neurosurgeons, vascular neurologists, neurointerventionalists, neurointensivists, and neuroradiologists, as well as stroke certified registered nurses, who offer the complete spectrum of neurological and neurosurgical services, including neurological intensive care, 24/7 availability of neurosurgery operating rooms, neuroscience ICU and endovascular facilities, as well as advanced imaging techniques.
Research has found that the unique combination of expertise, advanced technology and specialized care found at a comprehensive stroke center significantly reduces the risk of mortality.
The overall mortality rate of brain-bleed stroke patients treated at a comprehensive stroke center was reduced by seven percent. The mortality rate for patients treated for a subarachnoid hemorrhage was reduced by 27 percent. For patients who were initially diagnosed at a primary care or non-stroke center and moved to a comprehensive stroke center within 24 hours, the mortality rate was reduced by 36 percent.
“This study confirms previous observations by other investigators that patients treated at comprehensive stroke centers have lower mortality rates than primary care centers or non-stroke hospitals,” said Dr. Wengui Yu, director of the UC Irvine Health Comprehensive Stroke & Cerebrovascular Center. “Comprehensive stroke centers provide a broad range of neurological, neurosurgical, endovascular and neurocritical care therapies not available at other hospitals.”
Organized stroke care
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the number one cause of disability in the U.S., costing more than $34 billion in lost productivity and healthcare expenses annually.
With fewer than 100 comprehensive stroke centers across the country, the key to effective stroke care is prehospital screening by emergency room physicians to recognize stroke symptoms, properly triage patients and transfer them to a comprehensive stroke center as soon as possible.
“The survival benefit associated with treatment at a comprehensive stroke center is clear,” Yu said. “Patients experiencing a hemorrhagic stroke should be admitted or transferred to UC Irvine Medical Center for the best possible stroke care in the region.”
Hemorrhagic stroke studies
Previous research has shown that care at a comprehensive stroke center leads to better outcomes for the more common ischemic strokes, but there have been few studies focused on hemorrhagic strokes.
The JAHA study, “Comprehensive Stroke Centers May Be Associated With Improved Survival in Hemorrhagic Stroke,” is the largest ever conducted in the U.S. designed to assess the impact of comprehensive center stroke care on brain-bleed stroke outcomes.
For the study, physicians at the Cardiovascular Institute of New Jersey at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Robert Wood Johnson University utilized the Myocardial Infarction Data Acquisition System, which contains hospital discharge data from nonfederal acute care hospitals in New Jersey.