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After a stroke, every minute counts

“Time is brain” is a familiar refrain in neurology circles. That’s because the more quickly a stroke victim receives treatment, the greater the likelihood of recovery.

The most common kind of stroke, called ischemic stroke, is caused by a blockage of blood flow to a region of the brain. Ischemic strokes account for 85 percent of all strokes suffered in the United States each year.

The other 15 percent are called hemorrhagic strokes—those caused by bleeding that most often results when a weakened portion of a blood vessel, known as an aneurysm, bursts.

Thanks to quick work by physicians with the Zeenat Qureshi Stroke Research Center at the University of Minnesota, patients here are getting the critical treatment they need faster— when minutes can mean the difference between a quick recovery with few, if any, long-term effects and permanent disability or death.

At the Stroke Center, the elapsed time between a patient’s arrival at one of its medical facilities and neurointervention is 43 minutes. Nationally, the average is 60 minutes.

What’s more, at the Stroke Center, almost 20 percent of ischemic stroke patients receive acute neurological treatment to open the blocked vessel, in line with research showing that 20 percent of stroke patients need that type of care. Nationally, however, only 2 percent of patients receive acute treatment.

Formed in 2006, the Stroke Center is one of only a handful of its type in the country—with a cross-disciplinary team of doctors, nurses, and other specialists trained in interventional neurology, neurosurgery, or neuroradiology to improve outcomes for stroke patients.

“The science of stroke is expanding quickly,” says Adnan Qureshi, M.D., executive director of the Stroke Center. “We are seeing advancements in both rapid diagnosis and treatment.”

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