Stroke Association says life-saving treatment often eludes minorities
tPA is the only treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration for ischemic stroke, the most common kind. If administered within 4.5 hours of the first signs of stroke, tPA can dissolve the blood clot and restore blood flow to the affected part of the brain.
Still, according to research presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2017 on Feb. 23, researchers found that blacks were 38 percent less likely than whites to receive tPA. and Hispanics were 25 percent less likely than whites to receive tPA.
Moreover, those with private insurance were 29 percent more likely to receive tPA compared to those with Medicare, and residents of the “Stroke Belt” were 31 percent less likely than those living elsewhere to receive tPA.
The "Stroke Belt" consists of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
“Hospitals, governments and other organizations are undertaking efforts to increase the number of patients who receive tPA,” Dr. Tracy Madsen, M.D., lead researcher and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Brown University in Rhode Island, said. “We wanted to see if these quality improvement efforts were making a difference.”
The study reviewed records from the National Inpatient Sample of 563,087 patients (median age 74) who had an ischemic stroke from 2005-11. Overall, 3.8 percent of patients received tPA, with the number growing each year.