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Early Stroke Care Can Start With Paramedics

Study evaluated administration of magnesium sulfate

FRIDAY, Feb. 6, 2015 (HealthDay News) — It’s possible for paramedics to deliver immediate drug treatment to stroke patients, new research suggests. The study, funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), was published in the Feb. 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

The study included 1,700 patients suspected of having a stroke who were given magnesium sulfate or a placebo by paramedics within two hours of stroke onset. The paramedics identified potential stroke patients by using a stroke screening tool developed by the researchers. The paramedics then talked with a neurologist by cellphone to determine if a patient should be included in the study.

The drug proved no better than the placebo at reducing disability after a stroke, but the study did show that paramedics could provide early drug therapy to stroke patients. The researchers found that about 74.3 percent of the patients received the drug or placebo within 60 minutes of stroke onset.

“The most important finding of this study was that medication could be delivered within the ‘golden hour’ of first onset of stroke symptoms when there is the greatest amount of brain to save,” lead author Jeffrey Saver, M.D., of the University of California Los Angeles Comprehensive Stroke Center, said in a NINDS news release.

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