Mobile Stroke Units Get Patients Faster to Brain-Saving Treatment

Faster Than Standard Ambulance

Every second counts for stroke patients: Studies show they can lose up to 27 million brain cells per minute. According to a study at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth), patients transported to the hospital by mobile stroke unit instead of standard ambulance received a clot-busting procedure an average of 10 minutes faster—potentially saving up to 270 million neurons per patient. 

McGovern Medical School at UTHealth launched its mobile stroke unit in 2014—the first in the nation. While on board the unit, an interdisciplinary team can immediately begin to assess whether the patient needs a thrombectomy, including diagnostic imaging, neurological exam, and administration of tissue plasminogen activator, the only medical therapy known to treat ischemic stroke. That gives the treatment team a head start, and upon arrival at the hospital, the patient can be taken quickly to the endovascular suite. 

The study looked at data from 161 patients from Houston and two other locations from 2014 to 2018 who underwent intra-arterial thrombectomy after suffering an acute ischemic stroke. The findings show that mobile stroke units can be effective in cutting time to treatment, said Alexandra Czap, MD, first author of the paper, published in Stroke.

"Our mobile stroke unit allows us to bring the hospital to the patient," Czap said. "Streamlining this process allowed for one of our recent mobile stroke unit patients to complete treatment in under two hours from onset of symptoms.” In future, identifying possible thrombectomy candidates on the unit could increase triage accuracy and the number of patients having the procedure, which may lead to better patient outcomes.

Source: EurekAlert!, August 7, 2019