More Americans have timely access to acute stroke care, report finds

Nearly 20 percent of Americans in 2011 did not have timely access to acute stroke care. Since then, stroke care access has improved significantly, according to a research letter based on 2019 data published Feb. 9 in JAMA

Researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston used the 2019 National Emergency Department Inventory to determine how much population-level access to acute stroke care has improved. 

Three findings: 

1. About 91 percent of Americans lived within 60 minutes of an emergency department in a stroke center hospital in 2019. 

2. A similar proportion, 90 percent, lived within 60 minutes of a telestroke ED, bringing the total proportion of the population who lives within an hour of an ED with any acute stroke capabilities to 96 percent. 

3. Timely access to acute stroke care varied by region. In the Mountain West, about 91 percent of people lived within an hour of an ED with acute stroke capabilities. In the Mid-Atlantic region, this figure was 99 percent. 

"We observed a substantial increase in population access to acute stroke care," researchers said. "This increase likely reflects the extensive and ongoing work to improve stroke systems of care, including greater stroke center accreditation and expansion of telestroke capacity."

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