NEW YORK — Nationwide ambulance use by patients suffering from a stroke has not changed since the mid-1990s, even though effective stroke treatments are now available. In a study published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center found that the number of stroke victims transported via ambulance has remained relatively static over the years, highlighting the need for more education about stroke symptoms and the importance of early intervention.
The study, led by Dr. Hooman Kamel, a neurologist at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell and assistant professor of neurology at Weill Cornell Medical College, analyzed data collected by the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey (NHAMCS) between 1997 and 2008.
“People do not always recognize the seriousness of stroke symptoms, or instead of calling 911, they may call their primary care physician for an appointment and lose valuable time as the damage becomes irreversible,” says Dr. Kamel.
Based on 1,605 cases, the study found that just 51 percent of adults diagnosed with stroke in emergency departments nationwide arrived via ambulance, with no significant change over the 11-year span.
Dr. Kamel says recovery is possible with early treatment. “We have drugs and surgeries that can minimize brain damage from a stroke, but they can be used only within a few short hours. When stroke victims or bystanders quickly recognize the symptoms of a stroke and call 911, patients are more likely to arrive in time to receive these treatments.”
The study was co-authored by Dr. Babak Navi, director of the Stroke Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill-Cornell Medical Center and assistant professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, and Dr. Jahan Fahimi, an emergency physician and assistant professor at the University of California, San Francisco.
Common Warning Signs of Stroke
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, you should call 911 if you experience any of these symptoms.
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, located in New York City, is one of the leading academic medical centers in the world, comprising the teaching hospital NewYork-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medical College, the medical school of Cornell University. NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell provides state-of-the-art inpatient, ambulatory and preventive care in all areas of medicine, and is committed to excellence in patient care, education, research and community service. Weill Cornell physician-scientists have been responsible for many medical advances — including the development of the Pap test for cervical cancer; the synthesis of penicillin; the first successful embryo-biopsy pregnancy and birth in the U.S.; the first clinical trial for gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease; the first indication of bone marrow’s critical role in tumor growth; and, most recently, the world’s first successful use of deep brain stimulation to treat a minimally conscious brain-injured patient. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital also comprises NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Westchester Division and NewYork-Presbyterian/The Allen Hospital. NewYork-Presbyterian is the #1 hospital in the New York metropolitan area and is consistently ranked among the best academic medical institutions in the nation, according to U.S.News & World Report. Weill Cornell Medical College is the first U.S. medical college to offer a medical degree overseas and maintains a strong global presence in Austria, Brazil, Haiti, Tanzania, Turkey and Qatar. For more information, visit www.nyp.org and weill.cornell.edu.