PHILADELPHIA — Stroke researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania will unveil a map demonstrating geographic hotspots of increased stroke mortality across the United States, among a series of stroke studies being presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, April 26 to May 3, 2014.
Hot and Cold: Stroke Mortality Varies Widely, Even in Neighboring Counties
Clusters of “hot” spots - counties where the mortality rate from stroke was as much as 40 percent higher than the national average and 1.5 times higher than mortality of patients in “cool” spots - were found in the southeastern United States, but extended farther west and north than the traditionally defined “stroke belt.” In addition, researchers found isolated areas of low stroke mortality clustered within hot spots and isolated areas of high stroke mortality clustered within cool spots. Researchers hope to identify hot-spots that would benefit from targeted interventions to increase access to optimal stroke care, while accounting for population density, demographics, and existing healthcare resources.
Women Less Likely To Receive Stroke-Busting rt-PA
In a second study examining at stroke treatment disparities, researchers identified that women are less likely to receive clot-busting recombinant tissue plasminogen activator (rt-PA) than men at both Primary Stroke Centers and non-Primary Stroke Centers, although the absolute difference was small. Prior studies have suggested that women receive lower quality stroke care, are less likely to receive acute stroke therapies, and are more likely to be disabled after stroke then men. Further research can investigate any differences in rt-PA eligibility, stroke severity, or time to presentation by sex.
New App Optimizes Acute Stroke Care
A third Penn stroke study, by Claude Nguyen, MD, assistant professor of Clinical Neurology, describes a new smartphone app Dr. Nguyen developed to triage stroke patients more effectively. The app was designed to assist practitioners perform multiple tasks simultaneously, to diagnose, treat, and even enroll patients into appropriate clinical trials. Compatible with iOS and Android devices, the app assists with tracking important times, such as symptom onset, arrival time at hospital, diagnostic image acquisition, rt-PA administration, and more. It also has speed dial directory for important collaborators, references and clinical trial eligibility screening capabilities.
Nguyen first formed the idea for the app as a stroke fellow at the University of Texas (UT) Health Science Center at Houston, brainstorming ways to utilize his passion in technology to improve stroke care. He wrote the app on the side, building features to help with quality improvement, ease communication, and screen for clinical trials. The app is now being used by physicians, nurses, and research support staff at UT.
Penn Medicine is one of the world's leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $4.9 billion enterprise.
The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top five medical schools in the United States for the past 17 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $409 million awarded in the 2014 fiscal year.
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