Stroke: The Tip of the Spear

Stroke: The Tip of the Spear

Article Sep 05, 2017

For stroke victims and the people who care for them, it’s a moment of great opportunity. 

Recent advances have put U.S. healthcare systems in a better position than ever to help those who suffer from these tragic cerebrovascular accidents. With the time-sensitive nature of stroke events, EMS sits at the tip of that interventional spear. Providers’ choices and actions in the initial moments of a call can make an enormous difference to patients for whom time is literally brain. 

Stroke has a terrible cost. It’s the fifth-leading cause of death and leading cause of adult disability among Americans; each year nearly 800,000 citizens experience a new or recurrent stroke, and every four minutes someone dies. 

For the largest and most deadly of these strokes, mechanical thrombectomy has shown a clear benefit. For those with smaller strokes, clot-busting drugs may be sufficient. But either way, EMS has to recognize a stroke is occurring and get that patient to an appropriate facility to help. 

There’s more to successful outcomes than that, of course, but there’s no denying our role for these patients is great.

With this issue we begin a comprehensive three-part series—authored by top physicians and experts in the field—that looks at the role of EMS in helping stroke victims. This month overviews the challenges and opportunities being faced, describes a novel partnership that’s improving care in South Florida and considers how to get patients to the right level of care for their needs. 

Next month we’ll look at new prehospital stroke scales, and in November state stroke registries and the efficiency of receiving hospitals’ procedures. 

Join us on social media (, @emsworldnews) to continue the discussion and share what your system is doing—or should be—to reduce the morbidity and mortality of this longtime nemesis. 


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